Coast Guard, My Duty to Speak

Sexual harassment, racism and rape at the Coast Guard Academy

When one chooses to attend a service academy you expect to be sexually harassed or discriminated against for having a vagina or the color of your skin or the shapes of your eyes.  The extent of harassment I experienced couldn’t have ever been imagined. I have been sexually harassed almost daily since 2008. When reported they don’t follow up with you. The harassment continues.

I was raped once last spring. All that knew told me that I was lying and that I’ll regret reporting. I tried to report it and could not. Not one person followed through or investigated. A group of cadets call me a liar every single day.  I diagnose myself with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety.  I smile on the surface and I cry on the inside.

A while back we filled out a survey. It asked if we ever experienced unwanted sexual attention.  They say that it is anonymous but they often call people in who fill questionable answers in what should be an anonymous questionnaire. They code the surveys and know who is answering what. Except for the brave or ignorant few you respond the way that they want you to respond. Put on a smile, write down everything is perfect and count down the days when you are gone either by graduation or suicide.

I know about the support groups but do not attend. I know of a few that do but it is all hush hush and let never talk about it. I do not trust anybody even if they all suffering the same way that I am. CASA is too cliquey. The SARC is a male. A man is the last person that I’ll talk to for obvious reasons.  It is best to suffer alone.

We have the worst professors in the country:

We have to write student blogs.  We have to pretend everything is perfect. We are suppose to say we are equal. We are having fun. We are suppose to tell all who ask that the Coast Guard Academy is a wonderful opportunity and we feel so fortunate to be here. In reality we are all suffering. We have the most depressed students:

My self esteem is at an all time low. Thoughts of suicide is the only thing that brings a smile to my face.

If you are a white bible thumper male you’ll fit right in.  The Coast Guard Academy has a problem with rapists and racists.  Let me not even start talking about race. They try to fill quotas without any motivation to change the sexist and racist culture. I am here because of a quota. I am here because of my gender and my race. I am not here because I earned it. They know that. They make sure that you know that.

I know a fellow cadet that admitted to being a KKK member. I doubt that he is an active KKK member with the work load that we have but walking around pretending to be proud skinhead is all the same to me.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to get this off my shoulders.

My Duty to Speak

Sexual Assault at Keesler Air Force Base

Jennifer, United States Air Force

Technical School Instructor Sexually Assaults New Recruit I joined the Air National Guard in 1996 at the age of 24. At the onset of my career, I was raped by my recruiter at his house. I was invited to a “new recruit” party, drugged, and raped. I never told anyone because I was too ashamed. I had PTSD before I even left for basic training.

After completing basic training, I was sent to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi for technical school training. I had orders to attend six months of Satellite and Wideband Communications training. I quickly realized that the military culture was one of zero tolerance for reporting sexual harassment, assault, or rape. I witnessed two women speak out and get completely railroaded for reporting, one was kicked out. They were Active Duty.

I was two weeks away from graduation when I got sexually assaulted by my technical school instructor. He taught the basic operation of the satellite communications van. The mobile communications van is a box with racks of equipment in it. You could stand up in the equipment but it was a small enclosed space with a door that locked. For the final exam in this block, we all had to enter the mobile satellite communications van and configure it for a preventative maintenance inspection. When it was my turn, we entered the van like everyone else and the instructor shut the door. I began configuring the van for the maintenance inspection. I was confident that I could successfully complete the task. My back was to the instructor while I worked on the task.

After a few minutes, the technical school instructor came from behind me and pinned me to the racks of equipment while rubbing his genitals on me. And then he whispered in my ear, “Let me help you, let me help you.” I freaked out and fight or flight kicked in. I told him not to touch me and that I didn’t need his help. It was an intense moment so my adrenaline and my anxiety levels were through the roof. I had a hard time thinking straight after this happened. I hadn’t completed the task yet so I still had to finish it and wait for positive results, with shaking hands. That time with him felt like it lasted an eternity. I couldn’t wait for him to formally excuse me after passing the exam. Unfortunately, it did not end there.

At the end of the duty day, he asked me to stay behind so he could inform me that he was failing me for attitude even though I passed the final exam. I immediately began to cry and ask him why he was doing all this to me. I begged him to reconsider. He told me that he would reconsider only if I showed up the next day an hour or so before everyone else. I left the hangar in a state of panic. I wasn’t sure how to get out of the mess that this man created. I did not want to turn this guy in and get stuck dealing with an investigation when I only had two weeks left at Keesler AFB. I was so close and I was going to graduate and go home. I loved my job and I loved being in the military.

The next day, instead of going to class at all, I went to the Air National Guard liaison’s office. I had already been in contact with them regarding some shady medical practices at the hospital so they knew that I was already frustrated with the system, homesick, and depressed. I told them that the instructor wanted to fail me for attitude. I told them that I thought he just misinterpreted my sadness and depression. They agreed to give him a call and explain what we had been dealing with regarding the medical care. They called him and apparently he acquiesced because I was told to report to my next class with a brand new instructor. I dodged a bullet. I prevented my own rape.

I went to my next class with the rest of my classmates and never saw him again. In 2001, I was sent back to Keesler AFB for more advanced training. Shortly after training began, a couple classmates and I went to the NCO club. I felt safe there so I had a couple shots. As soon as he walked through the door I recognized him immediately. It was the technical school instructor that had sexually assaulted me in tech school in 1997. I immediately went into a blinded fury, stood up, took his picture, and then went to confront him. I started by telling him that it was time for some closure. I don’t remember what else I said but I was going off about what he had done to me in tech school.

The bartender called Security Forces and I was hauled out of there. I was informed that he was going to press charges against me for “disrespect to a NCO”. I told them to tell him that if he pressed charges against me that I was going to press charges against him for sexual harassment. Security Forces relayed the information to him and then came back to tell me that he dropped the charges. They told me to go home and cool off. They also told me that I was allowed back at the club just not that night. And that the technical school instructor just happened to be on leave from his permanent duty station in England. He was just visiting Keesler.

My class leader told me that I should cover myself and report the incident to the First Sargeant of the Communications training flight at Keesler. I put it in writing and met with him briefly. I never heard another word about it afterwards but I was fearful that the incident would get back to my new Commander. I was afraid of how it might affect his perception of me. This was the second of four sexual offenders I came in direct contact with while serving my country.

My Duty to Speak

United States Army recruiter RAPED

that1chick, United States Army

In 1995 I was Department of the Army selected (DA Selected) to be a recruiter. It was the most exciting time of my military career. Shortly after I finished recruiter school, I was promoted to Staff Sergeant. I believed in the Army and the NCO Creed and tried my hardest to live up to it. I believed that the Army had my back as long as I did what was expected of me—as long as I made mission.

When I got to my recruiting station in Chicago, the first thing my station commander (One of two names I will never forget) SFC ****. told me was he did not want me at his recruiting station. I should have taken that as a warning. This was the beginning of my hell on earth existing as a recruiter. In 1996 I was raped in that recruiting station by a Marine recruiter.

The next day, as a way to cope, the words of the NCO Creed resonated in my mind as I worked like a robot trying to make mission. I tried to bury what happened to me in my mind and continue my mission. I was a nervous wreck I was scared to run into SGT **** (the other name I will never forget) as I tried to do my mission. Finally, a friend in another unit, SFC ****, drove me to the police station –because I wouldn’t go myself out of fear–to file reports with them and NCIS at Great Lakes.

What a joke that turned out to be. I did the requisite rape kit and police report a few days later. I went through with it expecting to be protected and validated somehow. The local police told me they could not assist me with what happened because I was in the military. I was stonewalled by NCIS when I tried to press charges against SGT ***. Once the case was closed, I became the source of insult, ridicule, and gossip. NCIS even told me I should have been grateful that a Marine raped me.

I was rejected and dehumanized by everyone in my unit. I had a scarlet letter on my forehead. I constantly had migraine headaches and anxiety attacks because the battalion abandoned me –no one had my back. No one wanted to work with me –I had no way out of recruiting duty so had to complete my mission. As I struggled to hold onto my dignity and integrity, I became the problem child of the battalion. I almost never made mission because I was blackballed.

The MEPS disqualified my applicants so I had to work weekends to try to do it. SFC **** refused to transfer me out of the recruiting station or assist me in any way. The entire battalion knew what happened to me, they whispered about it and called me a slut and wacko behind my back. The female recruiters denigrated and rejected me as if I was lying about being raped by the bastard.

I had to look at my rapist every day for six months until my complaints finally reached the brigade Sergeant Major. He forced SFC **** to transfer me to another recruiting station. The rumors got to my new recruiting station faster than I did. The transfer did no good, nothing changed. The command ultimately continued to disqualify my applicants so I would not earn my gold badge (even though I had the points) when my tour ended.

Even after I left recruiting I was blackballed and as a result lost my career in 1999. In 2000 I enrolled in school to put the pieces of my life together and build a stable life for myself. In hindsight, I now realize how naïve that was. Since then, I can’t recall a time when I was totally at peace during that tour or since then. I was even going to the DOD websites to see if the bastard was killed in Iraq. Back then, I felt like a failure and I am still haunted by the memories. I still like a handicapped woman. It takes a lot for me to trust males.

Over the years, because of the lack of resources back then, pre 9/11, I had been laid off from jobs because I did not know how to manage my disability to function. With help from my family, I found resources for help. Still, in the veterans’ community MST survivors are often not recognized. There seems to be some stereotype or prototype of disabled veterans. When I got rides in the DAV van to my VA appointments, the other male veterans looked critically at me as if I didn’t pass muster or they hit on me. When it dawned on me that going to the VA in and of itself, was a trigger of my disability, I talked to my doctor to find safe places for me to go when I came for appointments. I continue to be optimistic by keeping my faith in God because he is my strength and my help.

My Duty to Speak

Coast Guard holiday party: Rape Survivors NOT invited.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

A friend of mine who is still in the Coast Guard status update on Facebook was that she had a great time at the on-base holiday party. I choked up and brought me to immediate tears. I never thought about the holiday party–or lack of-from when I was in the Coast Guard. I am surprised by my own tears and surprised on how it affected me.

I was forbidden to attend the holiday party.

I was the rape victim. I was the one being med boarded out.  I was the one who they loved to contradict themselves by saying that I am both a liar and was never raped-and a slut that deserved the rape.

Well what does rape have to do with attending a holiday party? Rape survivors were not allowed to attend. Makes no sense, right? Made no sense to me either so I spoke out.

And did I speak out.

I was the one that refused to take shit. I was the one who demanded that rape survivors be treated with respect, dignity and not like we are the enemy for reporting rape.

Rapists are the bad guys—rape survivors are not. They disagree. Most in the Coast Guard still do.

I was forbidden to attend the holiday party. It was said to be for my own safety. His friend (his meaning the rapist) were all going to be there. His friends said that they would love to rape me too. Hundreds of other should be there-everyone on base, and their spouses, and kids and well everyone were invited, everyone except the rape survivors. With so many women and kids on base you’ll think that they’ll ban rapists or men that threaten rape and not the rape victims? Makes no sense.

The party was held at the all hands club in Boston.  I was on my way home but made a stop by the entrance of the party. I don’t remember why I passed by it and not sure if I had something to do in that area of the base of if I decided to pass by the party to see if they changed their minds and let me in. I remember the HS1, a man that was kind to me, was at the door. He asked me if I have my ticket. I said that I did not. Then Joseph Segalla, a Commander said “she not allowed in.” I knew about it already from my immediate supervisor, an YNC, so I was not at all surprised. The Commanding Officer, Captain Keene, circulated an email that included the name of all who were transferred to the base in Boston for reason of reporting a rape or sexual assault. In the email he gave clear instruction forbidding us to attend the party. The email was circulated to all the survivors immediate supervisors. I ended up with a copy of that email from a YNC who made the mistake of forwarding it to me. HS1 did not say anything. I left.

The next duty day everyone were talking about how much fun the party was. Some not knowing that rape survivors weren’t allowed at the party asked me why I did not attend. What was I supposed to say? Oh yes, well you see I was beaten, raped and now I can’t go to the Holiday party. Made no sense to me. Makes not sense to you. I knew that it certainly wouldn’t make any sense to them. Instead, I just shrug and said next year -and hoping and praying that my med board comes through saying that rape survivors are able to serve and that I can see another Holiday party on base even though I doubt I would have attended-voluntarily or not. However I didn’t stay to see another Holiday party. I am part of the 92% who reported a rape…and kissed her career goodbye.

The thing is if I was invited, I mean if I were allowed, I probably wouldn’t have gone.  I am not a party person. I am not into drinking. I don’t want to see the friends of my rapists.  I am that woman that rather go to the bookstore than the bar. Parties, me we don’t mix. They bore me. I am not anti-social; bring a group of people and we can talk about social justice or the latest book that we read I’ll be in the middle of the group and the light of the party/talk whatever you want to call it. Take me to a bar I’ll be checking my watch, I mean- cell phone, wondering if it is time to leave yet.

Why is hearing about Coast Guard holiday parties affecting me now? At that time I thought that I didn’t care as much. Since leaving the Coast Guard I did not think twice about it. I even read the email from Captain Keene ever so often when going through my files and is angrier that he violated our privacy by listing our names than the fact that we weren’t allowed at the party.  I wish that I knew where these tears are coming from.

PTSD it gets you when you least expect it.

****For the record rape survivors were also not allowed to attend Coast Guard Day events (and they went to an amusement park, damm it) and All Hands meeting.

My Duty to Speak

Coast Guard officer drugged and raped in 2011

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

I served in the Coast Guard for over six years where I met the most amazing woman that a man can ask for. She was an officer and I was enlisted.  To make things easier for our relationship to last I chose to leave the Coast Guard and she stayed. We got married as soon as I left the service.

Earlier this year a LCDR put a roofie in her pop and raped her. When she woke up from being unconscious she immediately went to the hospital and they gathered forensic evidence off from her. She reported it to a Lt. who in turn told her to keep quiet about it or else she’ll be charged under Article 134-Adultry.

She reported what the Lt. told her and the rape to another Lt. that backed up the first Lt. and also added that she could be charged for using a controlled substance.  They have been using the entire rape kit against her.  The rape kit that she had at the hospital can only prove that she had drugs in her system and that sexual intercourse occurred. It does not prove that the sexual intercourse was consensual. It is up to the survivor to prove that the sex was not consensual not for the perpetrator to prove that he had consent.

My wife wakes up every night since the rape with nightmares. She has problems at work and in our relationship. She goes into angry outburst with strangers in public that cause us to argue non-stop when she is screaming at strangers for getting in her way. Her road rage scares me so much that I drive her to work each day. She punches the walls. She breaks down in tears and curls herself up in a ball. I love her but I feel so powerless at times. She does not want to receive counseling because it’ll affect her security clearance. I told her that her career is pretty much over and to just accept it and get help but she refuses.

She never had the opportunity to report it and was threatened when she tried to report it to the appropriate people. She no longer trusts the Coast Guard. At work those who found out have called her a ‘drama queen’ and ‘emotionally unstable.’ A Commander called her ‘psycho bitch that is looking for a handout’ and promises her that when she leaves the Coast Guard that her record would show how screw up that she is that she won’t be able to compensate for this through the VA. This Commander is a friend of the Lt Commander.

I heard that the United States Coast Guard is by far the worst when it comes to stuff like this but I never believed it until it happened to us.

My Duty to Speak

Navy recruit RAPED

Anonymous, United States Navy

I was 21, in a bad situation, and the military looked to me to be the best solution … I went to the Navy recruiting office in Nashville Tennessee, and joined up for 6 years. While on DEP, I was invited by the head recruiter in the office to their fancy dress Christmas party.

The party was held at a large hotel, and there were lots of people in dress uniforms, I was dazzled – they looked great and I wanted to be just like them … After the party, I was a little buzzed, but ready for my ride home … THEN he tells me – “I have us a room in the hotel tonight – I don’t want to drive” I was uncomfortable, but figured he was my recruiter, right??

We went to the room, and within 10 minutes, he had me on the bed raping me. After it was done, I was told if I wanted to STAY in the military, I would keep my mouth shut … if I told anyone, I would lose my 6 year contract, and he would talk to all the other recruiters to ensure NO branch would take me. I was pretty much homeless and jobless at this time, so I did what he said … I brought it up to other women later in my career, and was told by at least 5 other women that the same thing had happened to them … it has been over 25 years, and I still think about it on a regular basis.