My University holds a Take Back the Night ceremony every April to talk about sexual awareness in our community. I submitted my story to the Take Back the Night committee on campus to be considered to be a speaker. The committee composed of students and counselors at the Counseling center that was putting the event together. I was told by the committee that because I was raped in the military and because of the high percentage of Active Duty members and veterans on campus that they won’t be able to allow me to speak. They said that what I went through in the military may offend others. They felt MST was too controversial. The students in the committee advocated for me but the permanent staff on campus overruled them.
Many of my friends and classmates came to my side but by then it were too late since Take Back the Night came and went.
The following year when it was time for Take Back the Night my University not wanting to cause the uproar that it did the previous year decided to include Military Sexual Trauma to the event’s agenda. Instead of allowing a veteran or two to share their personal stories, they felt that it was best to bring a non-veteran employee from the VA to share with the University community the little she knows about MST. The presenter even admitted that she does not directly work with veterans with Military Sexual Trauma but she oversees the entire department for women and “some may have MST.” When asked how MST is different than civilian rape she could not answer. If they wanted a professional view on MST instead of a survivor’s story they should at least have brought in the MST program coordinator at the VA or a speaker from MRCC!
Take Back the Night Foundation has been contacted and they did a Public Relation spin on this matter refusing to make the University accountable for misusing and abusing Take Back the Night name and Logo to silence survivors of military sexual trauma.
This was at University of Massachusetts in Boston.
post has been edited since original posting as per the writer’s request
Editor’s note: The following statement was originally posted on our facebook wall.
Anonymous, United States Army
Serving a tour of duty for female soldiers, even when it was times of peace, was very much like being a pow. You couldn’t get out, you couldn’t get help, you were called names and don’t ask don’t tell was used as leverage. You were not safe. You were not safe when you slept, nor when you bathed. You were outnumbered. You couldn’t say “oh this is a bad guy, I want to stay away from him”. Furthermore, sometimes that bad guy was your first sgt. You can look back at how many women in ratio to how many men, have been turned out for homosexuality.
When and if they kick you out of the military-they don’t just kick you out, they try to break your spirit and destroy you, then they will send you back to society. There is no justice, and the ironic thing was their ad for “an army of one” such and oxymoron, yet that is how I felt. I slept with a buck knife in my hand, I learned to trust no one. I learned that you can serve the country that you live in, but the enemy you must fear most is the one closest to you. I wish I had the power to give the government a dishonorable discharge, since they don’t know what honor is. You have to know what justice is to actually have honor.
Anonymous, United States Army
My rape happened when I and a male friend had duty (CQ) the same night which mean we were both off work the next day. He had an apartment off the waters and we both thought it would be cool to chill together and drink while everyone else was working. I was not attracted to this guy, we have never been in an relationship, and I never had an idea that he ever saw me like that because he never gave any indication otherwise. I was dressed in an Izod shirt, a pair of Lee jeans and nothing about what I had on was attractive, tight, or showed anything because to this day I dress more on the conservative side.
We were sitting around drinking when all of a sudden, he came over to the couch where I was and started rubbing up against me, and I kept telling him to stop and asking him what was he doing. After he could see that I continued to struggle and resist him, his 6[4”, 200 pds size overcame my 4’11” 110 pds and raped me. I felt so bad after it was over, I just asked him could I take a shower, which he said yes. I took a shower and when I came out, he had the nerve to be laying on the floor in his underwear with is legs crossed as if he was a king and was really proud of what he had just done. I just asked him to take me back to the barracks. He did and I did not say a word the whole 20 minutes ride home. I never reported because of the activity we were doing and I know they would try to blame me, because this was back at a time when rape was not reported too often or was at least hard to prove, or at least that was the preception. When I got back to the barracks, I told a couple of my friends who encouraged me to report it, but again, because of what we were doing I was more afraid of the consenquences of that. Since then, I have suffered silently major chonic depression, anxieties, and social fears. I have been treated a couple of times, but as a single parent, treatment has always been short lived due to financial hardship. So, I keep it suppressed and don’t talk about it because for the most part, I think judgement would be made again because of our activity with the drinking and drugs.
Kristen, United States Coast Guard
I was sexually assaulted and groped throughout my time at the Academy. I was raped by a 1/c when I was a 2/c. It was reported. They laughed and told me that I had sex and regretted it. I was the one punished in the end.
I completed my military duty and am having difficulties finding a decent job. I am working at a job now that a high school graduate could do! I don’t dare tell anyone that I was in the Coast Guard. I have signed up for classes at a state college and plan on getting my undergrad degree in Psychology. I had to start from scratch so I can wipe clean of any thing that has to do with CG.
I have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have difficulties sleeping. I get flashbacks. I suffer from severe anxiety and depression all which led back to how I was treated at CGA. I filed for compensation and 7 months later I am still waiting for a response from the VA.
A good friend little sister just got her acceptance letter to the Academy and it breaks my heart to know that by her going to the Academy she has a greater chance of being assaulted or raped than if she was to go to any other university in the country. When I told her what happened to me she claims that it’ll never happen to her and that she’ll fight off any man that comes on her. If only it was that easy.
Everyone that received their acceptance letters this week Congratulation but don’t expect the Academy to be easy. The most difficult part would be to not get raped or assaulted. If you can do that you’ll do just fine. If you are a guy do not rape anyone. If you know of anyone that been raped or assaulted do what you can to help them. Remember that the CGA has been voted to be the worst place in America for a woman. We have the worst professors. We have the most unhappy students. Treat everyone with respect and dignity. It’ll make things better for all during your time at CGA and the Coast Guard and makes things easier when you leave the Coast Guard and look for a job. Hiring a CGA alum is too much of a liability for many companies. It is up to you now to be the future of the Coast Guard and improve the reputation that those before you destroyed.
post has been edited since original posting as per the writer’s request
Sandy, United States Air Force
The night before we shipped out for basic all recruits are required to spend over night at a hotel. In the morning they pick us up and we go back to MEPS and then to the airport to make our way to our respective training centers.
Even though it is against MEPS policy my roommate had her boyfriend over in the room for some last time action. She said that he will leave by 8 so I went and made myself busy for the few hours. I went to dinner and started talking to a guy that was going into the Army. We went to where most of the recruits gathered and were sitting in lounge chairs around a garden. At around 7 I was getting bored so he said that he was going to his room to watch TV and I was welcomed to join him. Going into the room of the opposite sex is against policy but I took the risk and went.
We were watching Jeopardy out of all shows. I was sitting on his bed and he was sitting on the floor. During the commercial he got up, pushed me against the bed and raped me.
I walked back to my room shaken and in a daze confused over what happened. The roommate’s boyfriend was still there when I got back and I demanded that he leaves cause I was going to go to sleep. She got all bitchy at me and said “you are just jealous cause you not get any.” I took a shower and slept. They make policies for a reason. If I followed then I wouldn’t have gotten myself into a situation that would get me raped.
Next day at MEPS I started crying and a nurse said “this is a stressful time for many. Let out all your tears before you get off the bus.
Reading all the stories on here gave me strength to share what I have been through. I never told a sole until now.
Thank you for reading this.
Aimee, United States Air Force
I am not sure if I am included in this exact space, as I am not active or former active duty military. But I have been raped by active duty members twice.
The first time, I was eight years old. My dad was in the Air Force and we were stationed overseas. It was a friend (or at least co-worker) of my dad who was babysitting me and my younger brother. He raped me in the shower, a blur of pain and blinding water. I mostly remember laying there while the water turned cold, staring at my reflection in the faucet. This is a case that probably could have been successfully prosecuted because of my age, but I was too lacking in the ability to cope or acknowledge what had happened to me. I didn’t understand, and my parents never noticed anything being wrong with me. I later learned what it was that happened to me, and it only made me more afraid of anyone finding out.
The second time I was 15, living in Colorado after my dad left the military. I was visiting a friend in Colorado Springs and while at a mall we met some men in the Army. I was uncomfortable with them flirting with us, but she was very flirty and I didn’t think it would be a big deal since it was just the mall. She saw some friends and walked away in an argument for a short time. While we were separated, one of the army men raped me in his car. He left for Iraq the next morning and I didn’t know anything about him. I felt like I would be blamed, and again couldn’t deal with the idea of people examining me or questioning me. I hadn’t dealt with the first rape yet, and this one made it much worse. I wish I had said something, even if it ended futilely. What if he raped again while in Iraq?
I have a lot of regrets about how I never came forward about this. Now I’m 24, and I am married to someone in the Air Force. We live overseas and I have been extremely hesitant about leaving our house or making friends because of this fear of being attacked by military men. I love my husband, and the military was the best option for him – and us as a family – but sometimes I am completely overwhelmed by social anxiety.
I wrote this for the site, despite hesitation over whether it applies, because the problem the military has with sexual assault extends beyond those in the service. I have never had to deal with the pain of being silenced by superiors and forced to work with the perpetrator, so my story is different. I am another product of the rape culture the military protects. I am recently trying to get involved with being an Advocate on the base I live at. My husband thinks it will be too much for me to handle, but I want to start helping in a direct way. I have met many military women who have been victims, and men and women who advocate for them are my heroes.