John, United States Coast Guard
We had a woman come on our base from another unit where she reported a rape. Before she even made it to our unit everyone knew why she was being transferred and we were told to stay away from her cause we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation that would have her accusing us of rape.
She was assigned to work at the on-base coffee shop and I saw her every morning when I went to get my coffee. Over time I would have small talk with her and she was very quiet and reserved but you can tell that she was a very nice person and not the “lying, crazy whore that was raped” that everyone made her out to be but I still kept my distance and only talked to her a few minutes each morning.
All the buildings on base are connected to each other through walkways. One afternoon I was walking to another building and saw a group of Coast Guardsmen in one corner of the walkway towards the building. When I looked closer I saw the woman surrounded by the men crying telling them to leave her alone. They were calling her a “crazy, lying whore” and telling her that she will pay for “snitching on their friend” and one said that “you are hot, I’ll love to rape you too”. I made my presence noticed by asking what is going on here and soon all the men backed off and acted like they were not doing anything wrong. They greeted me and left. The woman, her uniform ripped up and her in tears ran off the opposite direction. I couldn’t even ask her if she was okay but she was obviously very shaken up.
I went straight to the Coast Guard Investigative Office on base to report what happened and the special agent told me that he knows who I am talking about and that the “investigation is a mess” and it is best that I do “not get involved”. I was forced to leave. Christine Sullivan and Patricia Tutalo from work life was not any better. I knew that if I pushed the issue that my career would be in jeopardy.
Soon after she transferred out of the coffee shop and sent to work in another department and did not see her as often. Then one day she disappeared assuming she got discharged or transferred.
A couple of years later I was on-line and read something about a woman writing about her rape in the Coast Guard. She talked about being placed to work at the on-base coffee shop and made mention of being told “you are hot, i’ll love to rape you too” and I knew that it was the same woman. I tracked her down on facebook and sent her a message. She was a bit hesitant at first, I would be too but over time we started to talk. I saw this on facebook and decided to submit my story to get another perspective of what is happening in our military.
Some of us do want to help but we are threatened by special agents or military police that we should “mind our own business” and our jobs are on the line if we do not. Now that I am out of the Coast Guard I can speak more freely. I do wonder at time how her story will be different if I spoke up and tried to help her.
I hope one day that she can submit her own story but for now this is how I witnessed what happened to her. I am a father, a husband and a brother and one of the women in my life were brutally raped and I know how rape affects victims and their families.