I was separated from the Coast Guard because I reported a rape.
I am not ready to share my story. I do want to share these four concerns that I feel should be addressed by the Congress.
1. I was forced to pay out of pocket to attend my own Article 32 hearing. I was eventually reimbursed but I was given a hard time when I requested to be reimbursed and had to tell 3 people why I was traveling. One questioned me on why the Coast Guard should pay for a personal matter. Apparently you have to be rich to bring forward any charges against a rapist in the Coast Guard. Unless you are sitting on a pile of cash forget about having your parents or anyone there to support you.
2. The retaliation was worst than the rape. Almost everyone from an E-2 to an O-7 called me a liar.
3. After reporting my rape I was the one transferred not my rapist. You’ll think that the Coast Guard would have some common sense and not transfer a rape victim away from her friends and a unit she is familiar with. In addition to being the odd new girl that left early for counseling I felt even more isolated because I was at a new unit and in a new city.
4. The Coast Guard does not allow non-Coast Guard victim advocates to serve as victim advocates. I requested Panayiota as my victim advocate and the Coast Guard denied it. Instead they gave me 3 different victim advocates within a year. By the time I felt comfortable with one they gave me a new one. The irony of it all is that at times they did not know the answers to my questions and they’ll ask me to ask Panayiota and then requested to know what Panayiota has said so that they can know for future victims. Even though Panayiota was not allowed on base with me and at the hearing she was the only one that was stable in my life and the first person I emailed or called after getting any updates about my case. All of the victim advocates were very nice people but I felt that they were not trained enough. Every other branch of the military allows non-military members to assist rape victims why doesn’t the Coast Guard?