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On February 15, a group of 16 service members and veterans filed a lawsuit against the United States military demanding changes in the way that sexual assault is being dealt with in the ranks.

Kori Cioca reported that the Coast Guard told her that if she pressed forward with reporting the sex as a rape, she would be court-martialed for lying. She said the man pleaded guilty only to hitting her and his punishment was a minor loss of pay and being forced to stay on the base for 30 days.

“You think of a Coast Guardsman, you think of somebody in the military holding themselves at a certain level,” Cioca said. “When somebody walks up to you and shakes your hand and says, ‘Thank you for your service,’ little do they know they’re shaking the hand of a man who rapes and beats women in the military. ”

Panayiota Bertzikis  says she was raped by a Coast Guard shipmate while out on a hike with him in Burlington, Vt. Bertzikis complained to her commanding officer, but she said authorities did not take substantial steps to investigate the matter. Instead, she said, they forced her to live on the same floor as the man she had accused and tolerated others calling her a “liar” and “whore.”

However the rape is only the beginning of abuse that survivors often face. Panayiota Bertzikis said: “The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it’s the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it…..From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed.”

Please call your Representatives TODAY demanding better protecting for service members who been sexually assaulted or raped:

Sample Script:

We are a group of survivors of Military Sexual Trauma and the families of the fallen victims of Military Sexual Trauma. We have been denied the right to serve without being raped and sexually harassed. The most absurdly nominal attention has been pad to this by military leaders and we are writing to ask for congressional oversight of the military.

Sexual perpetrators usually continue to collect a paycheck and advance while victims are quickly discharged with diagnosis’ of depression, adaptation disorder due to rape, cyclothymia, bipolar II, and personality disorder. This is an injustice that is cultivated by rape culture.

We ask that legislative attention is given to this problem from this time until the problem is resolved.

Furthermore, we ask that the survivors and the families of the fallen are heard by lawmakers on this matter. We hope that the first place that lawmakers stop to learn more about this matter is the website My Duty to Speak, http://mydutytospeak.com/.

My Duty to Speak is a journal of our stories in our words. For many survivors, this is the first time that we have been heard, believed, and supported. We would like to add this 112th Congress to the list of people that hear our stories.

We urge our senators and representatives not to stop with our stories. Please get to know the staff and volunteers at the Military Rape Crisis Center in Cambridge Massachusetts. We began in the Boston barracks room room of our founder Panayiota Bertzikis. After she was raped and illegally imprisoned while a Station Burlington Coast Guard Boatswain Mate investigated the allegations, Panayiota began a blog that brought out other service members in need of support.

Those desperate quests for understanding blossomed into a formidable force of service that supports military sexual trauma survivors in need of crisis counseling and advocacy.

We seek legislative change and public awareness. Please support us and please support funding and policy change on this matter.






  1. I survived forced sex (non-violent to start, I was overseas in a country under martial law, couldn’t go awol if I tried) and a very perverted attempt at murder-suicide by a superior officer. The events took place in the late 1970’s. I came back changed, began to rebuild my life, but an episode at work was similar enough to bring my PTSD roaring back. I never held a full time job for long after that.
    I tried the VA, they made it worse, much worse. Got kicked out of their own back-to-work program, but no disability. Homeless for years, treated like I’m the criminal, interrogated when I applied for VA disability. Will go on record if you need. Would like to start a log of offenders for possible corroboration of claims. VA will not cross-reference claims.
    Also think civilians should know these predators who are protected by the military and VA are going to go on preying when they retire or separate. They will not by registered. Why do we register civilian sex offenders? BECAUSE WE KNOW THEY GO ON COMMITTING CRIMES.
    It doesn’t stop or go away with time. I am not weak or lazy or stupid.

    1. Cecelia I just wanted to let you know that I am enduring the same thing with the VA now. I got fired from their VRA program because I kept having anxiety attacks. Whats worse, I was getting care in the VA hospital I worked in but still got fired. I have prayed for you and may God keep you

    2. You raise such good points, may I offer my own apology as an American for all that has happened to you. Thank you for your service and thank you for your thoughtful ideas, you are so right about registering the names of the offenders. We owe this protection to our daughters.

  2. I can see both points of view on this topic… public sex offender registries. I was sexual assaulted in the AF, which resulted in birth of a baby girl. To this day I have not told her she was/is the result of such a crime. she is now 20, still demanding to know who her biological father is. Having his info. NOT public protects her from locating him and being anywhere near him….as she is now at the age i was when he raped me. Granted, i think everyone should know he is a scum bag, in my case i am glad his information isnt public.

  3. I have a question, Evonne. Are you protecting her, or are you really protecting yourself? She deserves to know the truth and the truth will set you free. I love you. We are all here for you. Nothing in this life worth doing is easy, but trust me, you need this.

  4. I agree that she needs to know before she turns on you. Not telling a child/adult can be, in many cases, more traumatizing then not telling them. I speak from personal experience on this. I gave up my daughter when she was born and she contacted me to get information on family history etc and wanted to know who her father was. She didnt like the news at first, but has come to love me totally and she gets it.

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