Meghan, United States Coast Guard
I served in the United States Coast Guard from 2006-2010. I enlisted with the desire to make it a career but instead I was a four-years non-rate which was not by choice. Because I reported what was happening to me in terms of sexual harassment and rape from one of the unit most liked member the Chief refused to allow me to attend A-school. Instead I left the Coast Guard after my initial four years contract as an E-3.
I was sent to a small boat station right after basic training. I was a determined to succeed 18 years old. I have also been plagued with the big boob-itis since my pre-teens. I was the first among my friends to wear a bra at the tender age of 8. I was a D-cup since I high school. I was always self conscious about my body and tried to cover myself as much as I could to draw attention away from my body. As you can imagine a testosterone-fueled small boat station was not the best match for me. I was also a lesbian and have been only in relationships with other women. I served during Don’t Ask, Don’t tell and even though I was living with a girlfriend the entire time that I was in the Coast Guard they were not aware of it.
The men at the station often joked around about my breasts. After 10+ jokes a day for 4 years it is enough already just shut up! They will often slip and say breast instead of best such as “you should try your breast”. We had dirty posters posted around the station which they’ll compare my body to that of the models. During weigh-ins I always weighed within regulations but they always would say comments such as “If it was not for your breasts you’ll be below the weight requirements”. While on duty a lot of the men will watch porn on government-owned televisions and call me in to compare me with those in porn. They will ask why I was in the Coast Guard if I could make a lot more money doing porn.
I found ways to make myself less noticeable. We were not required to wear the ODU blouse but was instead we were allowed to wear a Coast Guard t-shirt or sweatshirt. I wore the sweatshirts three times too big to cover up my body. While on liberty I’ll wear only mens clothes because they cover my body more.
July 2009 an MK2 came up and touched my breasts. I screamed at him to stop and the Chief wrote me up for disrespecting a superior. Another day I was mess cooking and boiling pasta. The MK2 came into the galley and touched me again. My natural reaction was to scream at him to stop. He said to listen to the Chief and to respect him. I was “just a non-rate” and then poured the boiling hot water on me causing first degree burns. The Officer of the Day (OOD), a BM1 did not allow me to seek medical attention and told me to clean up the mess and to find something to cook because he was starving. When I told Chief he laughed and asked since the pasta was ruined what did we end up eating.
September 16, 2009 I was cleaning the galley and the Mk2 came in and tried to touch me again. He held my wrists over my head with one hand and put his hand over my mouth with his other hand. I am 5’4, he was at least 6’2 and at least 100 pounds heavier. He pulled my pants down and was touching me. We heard someone and he stopped and told me “pull your pants back up slut” At this point I was crying and shaking. I wanted to run away but I could not feel my legs.
September 29, 2009 I was sleeping in the duty room for women. I was the only woman on duty that evening and therefore had the room to myself. In the room we had two bunk beds side by side from each other. I was sleeping on one of the bottom bunk. I woke up in the morning and the MK2 was walking around the room naked. I walked out and went straight to the OOD who went to me to the duty room and by then MK2 was gone. The OOD called me delusional and a liar. The OOD was also his drinking buddy.
October 31. 2009 It was Halloween and I was not on duty. I was shopping at Walmart with my girlfriend and we ran into the MK2 and one of his friends who was a BM2. They were buying costumes for a party that evening. The BM2 asked me what I’ll be for Halloween. I said that I do not plan on dressing up and would probably stay at home and watch a movie. I am not much of a going out party person. The MK2 said “come on. All women want to show off their inner-slut on Halloween” and pulled out one of those “sexy sailors” costumes that was on the stand. The BM2 laughed. My girlfriend almost attacked him but we were able to leave before it escalated.
December 25, 2009 I was on duty and the MK2 came into the watch room and declared that his goal was to “get with me”. That evening I was in the duty room sleeping and he came in and sat down on my bed. I woke up and he was so tall that he could not sit up without hitting his head on to top bunk. He literally picked me up and threw me on the floor. He molested me that evening.
I reported it straight to the OOD, the BM1 who was his drinking buddy and best friend and he said “I can not imagine MK2 doing that” and laughed. Within 12 hours the BM2 found out and told me that he is tired of women in the Coast Guard trying to ruin careers. Another BM2 said that I am crazy and should not lie. A woman who was a BM3 called me a slut. The Chief said that the MK2 was one of his best and can’t imagine him doing that. I called a Chaplin that did not return my phone calls. They stick you up basically in the middle of nowhere and then when you try to reach out they ignore you.
January 15, 2010 MK2 went back into my room. Carried me out of bed. He put me on the floor and raped me.
January 23, 2010 he came into the duty room. Tied me up to the desk and ripped my pj’s off. He took photos of me naked. I do not know where the photos went. There are photos probably on a some website of me tied up to a desk, crying and naked.
January 27, he repeated it
February 8 he came into the watch room and rubbed himself onto me. I told him to leave and he slapped me telling me that I am a non-rate that needs to learn respect.
He made it to MK1 and left.
I received my discharge papers June 2010 when my four years was up.
This all happened during the time span of two Officers in Charge. Both were aware of what was happening and neither did anything to help. I have called the Chaplin many times and he not once returned my phone calls. I was told that I was not believed and knew that if I officially reported it that it would have gone nowhere. The MK2 has been promoted to an MK1.
The entire time I was trying to get myself on an A-school list for SK. My command refused to sign me off.
You have to learn to deal with it. Sexual harassment is part of the job. Everyone at the station was guilty with jokes and comments about my breasts including the women. You have to work around it. I’ll use masking tape to tape down my breasts so that they can look smaller. It just an annoyance that you have to do to survive in a male-dominant field.
Now that I am out I can confess that I became severely anorexic while in service. I felt that my situation was so beyond my control. I was raped and not one person cared. I was photographed, groped, molested and harassed and not one person cared to stop it. The only thing that I had some control over was what I ate. This has caused me to develop anorexia which I am still recovering from today.
I have just completed a 16-weeks intense program through the VA for those who been raped in the service. I have broken up with my girlfriend which was in part due to my PTSD outbursts. I don’t think that I can ever be with anyone. I can’t have anyone touch me or even be near me. I live in New Hampshire in a small house that I rent on a farm away from most everyone. I can go weeks without leaving the house and that is what makes me feel safest.
My advice to those thinking of enlisting is to go in with a guaranteed A-school. Try to choose a rating that will most likely put you in a support unit such as a yeoman, storekeeper, or HS. I feel that small boat stations are a breeding ground for rapists. If you are a non-rate it is almost guaranteed that you’ll be harassed and probably assaulted. I have spoken through MRCC’s support group of other women who been raped and most were non-rates from small boat stations. That should say something about the culture of the small boat stations.