My Duty to Speak

U.S soldier raped and denied justice.

Anonymous, United States Army

In 2001 I joined the US Army. February of 2002 I left for basic training. In Aug of 02 I arrived at my unit in Hanau Germany. My chain of command during this time was constantly telling me what an outstanding soldier I was. I worked hard, did everything they told me to do, they had no complaints. I even broke records for performing my job accurately and quickly. I also shot expert with the M16. Then in late November 2002 an NCO in another battery tried to rape me. I was able to fight him off long enough for someone to overhear at which point the NCO fled.

I went to my NCO and informed him that I had been attacked; at the time I felt I could trust him. He told me to write it all down Asap and then he’d find out what the chain of command wanted me to do. A few hours later he informed me that per my platoon sergeant I was to go see the equal opportunity NCO and file a sworn statement. I filed a report through the EO NCO per my chain of commands instructions, the EO NCO kept my hand written copy and typed up a sworn statement and told me I could get a copy from my first sergeant. Several days later my first sergeant called me into his office where he told me “forget about it, it never happened” then he proceeded to shred the report. I was never given any copies.

I sank into a major depression and had to begin seeking treatment at mental health who diagnosed me with major depression. During this time suddenly my chain of commands view about me changed drastically. No matter what I did I was treated as if I was the worst soldier there. My counseling statements began reflecting this as well. In December 2002 I was diagnosed with pneumonia and put on quarters. My first sergeant decided he wanted me to guard trucks at campo pond (there was a snow storm going on at the time as well). I told him I was on quarters because I had pneumonia, he told me he didn’t care there was a building out there that I could serve my quarters at.

At 5am those of us on guard duty were kicked out of the buildings and forced to stand outside in the snow and 20 degree weather. This caused my condition to get much worse and last for much longer than it should have. At the very end of December of 02 we were sent to Israel for what later turned into a 6 month deployment. During the deployment the treatment I received by my chain of command was so severe I attempted suicide. I also went to my chain of command several times about harassment from one of my fellow soldiers; I informed them that if they didn’t do something to get him to leave me alone I would be forced to take matters into my own hands. Their answer to this was to discipline me for threatening another soldier and to take my weapon from me.

At the beginning of June when we returned to Germany my NCO began to give me numerous negative counseling statements, he informed me that my first sergeant wanted to build up enough evidence to chapter me for a pattern of misconduct. Shortly after that in mid June 2003 I was injured and almost severed my spinal cord. After this I was under profile for a while not to wear any gear. I informed my chain of command of my profile; they told me they would remove me from the guard duty roster. This did not happen. On July 9, 2003 they attempted to give me an article 15 for dereliction of duty. They held the hearing July 11, 2003 later and gave me no opportunity to see JAG. The article 15 was thrown out by my commander because my platoon LT had written in her book the exact date and time which I had fulfilled notifying the chain of command of my profile.

Within 4 days of them failing to give me an article 15, July 15, 2003, I was notified that I would be getting chaptered out of the service on a 5-13 personality disorder discharge. By this point, I admit, I was ready to get out of the service. I was majorly depressed because of the lack of action on my sexual assault. I was also in severe back pain. They informed me that if I tried to fight my chapter they would make my life a living hell. Once I told them I would accept it, they finally gave me some peace and left me alone, I stopped receiving any counseling statements except for the ones telling me I was a high risk soldier and should be safe when driving. On my birthday November 17, 2003 I was finally told that I would be leaving the service as of November 22, 2003.

On Nov 22 when I went for final out processing I was then informed for the first time that they intended to recoup $3,412.97 from me. As of July 2010 that amount was $6,411.13. They have now started to take money from my Social security disability to try to recoup this. The balance now after having them recoup portions of tax refunds and my social security is now just under $3k. I still refuse to pay financially for the horror of getting sexually assaulted then watching as the people who are supposed to back you up and ensure proper punishment happens instead do the exact opposite and instead choose to torment and punish the victim.

I am terrified of having to fight this but I know I have to. I will not be victimized repeatedly by them. Every little reminder of having to deal with DoD puts me into a severe panic attack. But I have to be strong enough for just long enough so that one day I may have some glimmer of hope of some kind of recovery. Over these last ten years I’ve dealt with nightmares, flashbacks, my ears are a huge trigger because when the NCO attacked me he sucked on my ear and whispered into it, meaning that now I’ve had to teach my kids not to whisper into mommies ears. I didn’t talk about what happened to me to my family for years. Earlier this year though I started talking and my sister was pretty shocked. She even told me I deserved to get the discharge I got because before I joined the military I had several different jobs. I loved being in the Army, I loved my job and I was good at it. To have my sister say I deserved what happened and that I was just being over sensitive because the military is supposed to be hard hurt. It’s made me doubt everything and made it all hurt so much worse. I wonder every day now if they were right in how they were treating me afterward, or was it retaliation. Recently the stress from all this got so bad it actually made my brain short circuit and I had several seizures. Thankfully it all seems to be calming down, but now I keep getting these debilitating headaches. It’s almost 1 am as I finish typing this now, I can hardly sleep anymore. I haven’t slept good in years. I wake up screaming sometimes feeling hands on me where no one is touching me. I can hardly face the world because I can’t trust people.

My husband practically walks on egg shells to keep my trust, he’s had to work so hard to earn it and keep it. He’s my rock. I know it’s hard for him too though because he witnessed what my chain of command did to me after the assault. We met and became friends about 3 weeks after the assault. I can never explain how much he’s supported me through all this, and he has stood by my side as I’ve told my story over and over again. He’s held me as flashbacks and memories have overtaken me and helped me sort through the jumbled mess my memory has become. It seems lately every flashback helps me remember the little details of what my chain of command did afterward. I have no issues remembering the assault though, and that is the one thing I wish I could forget.

My Duty to Speak

Active Duty Coast Guardsman face retaliation for seeking treatment for rape.

Active Duty, United States Coast Guard

I was raped and chose unrestricted reporting. My Chief and others told me that they would stand by me and that my assailant is going to go to prison. They saw my injuries and knew of “the history” of my assailant that they promised that they would testify against him and want to see him sent to the brig.  I was interviewed by CGI, and it came back that there might have been other victims.

I was sent inpatient for almost one month to help with me with the rape.

After the program, I was sent to a different unit than my assailant.  I called my old Chief, and those at my old unit that promised to stick by me and they told me that they were advised to no longer speak to me. I left a message for my victim advocate a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting to hear back from her.

The investigation came back as not enough evidence to move forward. Everyone found out and called me a liar for crying rape. I was told that because I was the one in the loony bin and not my rapist that something was obviously wrong with me.

My biggest mistake has been to agree to go inpatient. Before that, I had witnesses that were willing to testify, CGIS that believed me, a command that was trying to help me. Because of my inpatient treatment, I now have a scarlet letter on my forehead that reads the warning. The crazy woman who spent almost a month in the treatment program.

At the program, I was told about MRCC by a few patients and MRCC were able to set me up counseling for as soon as I got out.  The doctor that the Coast Guard requires me to see told me that my diagnosis for PTSD is a mistake and is trying to determine what is wrong with me. The doctor feels that because my parents divorced when I was a child that I am having problems dealing with that and it might make me ineligible for military service. The doctor also thinks I might be having problems adjusting to the Coast Guard. The doctor that I am seeing that been referred to me by MRCC told me that I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of Military Sexual Trauma.

I want to stay in the Coast Guard but reading all the stories on here and knowing that I have problems because my parents are divorce leaves me very scared and depressed.

My Duty to Speak

Coast Guard captain verbally assault civilian victim advocate at Coast Guard Base Boston

K, Civilian

Several years back I heard about the Military Rape Crisis Center looking for volunteers to canvas throughout the Northeast informing Active Duty service members and Veterans about the help that is out there for them if they have been sexually victimized. I submitted my application to be a member of the Street Team and was chosen. I spent that summer with 14-20 others working to eliminate sexual violence in the military.

 That summer we made 32 stops in 12 states. We were often welcomed with open arms; given bottles of water when it was hot outside and a table inside the military base when it was pouring rain. Most importantly we built long lasting relationships and members of the Street Team still are invited back for pre/post deployment events, yellow ribbon events and to serve as advisors to the sexual assault prevention and response office.

 Out of thirty-two military installations we only received negative feedback from one unit, the sole Coast Guard base that we visited; Coast Guard Boston (comprised of Sector Boston, District 1, Station Boston, BSU/ISC Boston, several cutters and so forth) Split between two separate locations just several blocks apart Coast Guard Boston has since grown notorious for having the most sexual assault cases per capita seeking assistance through the Military Rape Crisis Center than any other U. S military installation in the entire world.

 Two of our Street Team members are former members of Coast Guard Boston. Both were raped and forced out of their careers. Due to their personal connection to the base we knew it was going to be the most difficult stop. However, we soon realized that the difficulties wouldn’t be from the survivors dealing with triggers (they are two of the strongest people I ever met and am in awe by how well they handled being back at a place that caused them so much trauma) but instead from the apathy, ignorance, denial and downright abuse that we encountered from members (mostly Officers) at the various units that comprised of Coast Guard Boston.

At Coast Guard Boston when we were told the “f-word” in conjunction with “nobody was ever raped here” we knew that we were in for a long battle.

We did not allow their apathy to defer us away from helping those stationed at Coast Guard Boston. With the mentality of “If they are willing to treat mostly civilian rape advocates in such a sick and abusive manner one can only imagine how badly rape survivors are being treated behind the gate.”

Long after our 32-stop military tour ended many of us continued visiting outside USCG Boston on a regular basis. It was clear that we, as anti-rape advocates, were viewed in a negative light while the rape culture within Coast Guard Boston thrived.

It did not take long for the following to happen:

• SARCs from around the nation called us upset that they were contacted by Coast Guard Boston to “stay away from us”. The victim blaming statements given to them by Coast Guard Boston obvious made SARCs upset the way that survivors are being treated. The SARCs understood that Coast Guard Boston contacting and threatening them was a retaliation against our Director, a Coast Guard veteran that was brutally raped and sent to Coast Guard Boston and further mistreated.. The SARCs were obviously upset that  Coast Guard Boston was suggesting to do an injustice to Armed Service members; not giving them all the support that is available to them, because Coast Guard Boston wanted to continue their abusive behavior against survivors. Obviously the SARCs were quick to join in out initiative to help survivors in the U.S Coast Guard after witnessing first hand what we had to go through in Boston. Non-Coast Guard SARCs and Victim Advocates especially around New England are still our biggest supporters and we receive the many referrals from them. Non-Coast Guard SARCs are also willing to work with Coast Guard rape survivors to help them get the help that they need. If you are a Coast Guard rape survivor please know that you can go to another military installation to get help.

• One of the two rape survivor that were with us lost her privilege of entering the base even when invited! When she did enter the base prior to the ban she remained professional and did not take her advocacy with her. To this day she is not able to get a response from JAG officer Christine Cutter or anyone else on that base.

 • Residing in the North End I often took my dog on walks to one of the few public parks in the neighbor; a park directly next to Coast Guard Boston on Commercial Street. A Coast Guardsman that recognized me as a Street Team member was clearly not happy with us helping rape survivors. The name on his blouse said DeCola . I later found out was Peter DeCola the Executive Officer of Coast Guard Boston. Decola chose not to help a shipmate that were being forced out of her career for reporting rape.

• We received threats, prank calls and harassing emails (often from email addresses). When this was brought to the attention of the Coast Guard Investigative Services they chose not to take any actions.

While other military branches were sending us thank you notes and open invitations to return we were receiving threats at Coast Guard Boston. At all units we were doing the same exact thing, using the same exact materials (with only minor change to focus on particular branch of service) and saying the same exact script. Thrity-one military installations are saying “Thank you. You are a godsend” and one is saying “Go f-yourself. You are all crazy, horrible people that are saying bad things about the Coast Gard”.

Sadly, though our predictions of an environment that thrives on “rape survivors are the bad guys” and “rape survivors should be punished” were true and it did not take long for phone calls to be made into the Military Rape Crisis Center office from rape survivors based out of Boston.

The most memorable being a Coast Guardsman that took our flier paused to read it, looked up at me with the saddest eyes and walked away without saying a word. Several months later I ran into him in the waiting room while he was waiting to receive services through at the Military Rape Crisis Center. The sadness he had in his eyes that day still gets to me.

Because of confidentiality I was never told of his situation or what had happened to him but I know that our work standing outside Coast Guard Boston helped him get closer to receiving the services that he deserved.

A local business approved fliers to go up on their bulletin board. An employee told me of an incident in which a Coast Guardsman in full uniform saw the flier, stormed in, ripped the flyer off the bulletin, crumbled it up and threw it on the floor.

Another incident involved one of the two Coast Guards rape survivors were invited back to the base only to be publicly humiliated and left out in a rainy, cold February being laughed at, threatened and told that she is not welcomed back because she is helping rape survivors. Why invite her in the first place? It was all part of the scheme to let us know that anti-rape activists are just not welcomed.

Several members of Coast Guard Boston are so angry with folks that help rape survivors because we are unveiling the abuse that they had put on their fellow shipmates. They would go out of their way to continue to slander and put down rape survivors and all that are helping survivors.

Our fight to eliminate the rape culture at Coast Guard Boston is still going on. Our service members are still suffering. The phone at the Center is still ringing from those in the Coast Guard asking for assistance.

Being raised in a small patriotic town in the suburbs of Boston I grew up having the upmost respect for members of the military. Knowing that I personally could never serve (I have Arrhythmias) I know that helping those that are serving is the most patriotic thing that I personally can do.

I support the troops and what better way to show that than to work to eliminate sexual violence against our heroes? Our Coasties need help. They are being raped at an epidemic rate and the very organization that is suppose to help them are turning their back at them, sending out emails to their entire unit to “not talk to the rape survivor” and evidently survivors are kicked out of service and barred from entering the base ever again. If you report rape in the Coast Guard’s eyes you are the bad ones. If you try to help rape survivors in the Coast Guard’s eyes you are the bad one. I am here to tell you all that we are not the bad ones.

Men and women that report rape in the United States Coast Guard deserve to be respected and treated with dignity. Our Coast Guard rape survivors do not deserve to be forced out of service for reporting a rape. Our Coast Guard veterans do not deserve to be barred from entering a Coast Guard installation because they are doing the honorable, noble thing of helping their shipmates.

The days that Coast Guard Boston sweep rape under the rug are running out thanks to the blog  started by Coast Guard Boston rape survivor. All survivors now have a voice and an outlet to share the story of abuse that they suffered while serving this nation.

If you are a rape survivor in the military and want to talk to somebody visit Military Rape Crisis Center. There is help out there.

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