The U.S Navy’s Response to Sexual Violence in 2017: Blame the victim. Don’t charge perpetrator.

Anonymous, United States Navy

I was 18 and thought I knew it all. Fresh out of Navy boot camp and away from my strict Guardian I was ready to live my life the way that I thought I should be able to live it. I was finally allowed to leave the base for the weekend and was going out with a guy and a girl I thought I could trust. I didn’t know that weekend would be the one that would change my life. We got our hotel and had gone to eat and have a fun night out on the town. We stopped by a popular hookah lounge to smoke before going to the 18+ club around the corner. While we were there, we saw two guys we knew from the base. They had a third guy with them that no one knew. The guy in our group invites them to join us. I’m not sure when one of them slipped something in my drink, but I think it had to be when I went to the bathroom.

I don’t really remember much after that. I think I lost about 6 hours. We apparently went to the club and somehow all if we got separated. I ended up back at the hotel with the three guys and the other girl. She was wasted according to what I’ve been told and passed out almost immediately. I woke up with the three guys over me. I started flipping out. I didn’t have anything on, and I was in so much pain. They freaked out when I woke up and left. I was bleeding, and I didn’t know what to do so I cleaned myself up and didn’t say a word. For 6 months I tried to forget about what had happened but if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that things like this just don’t disappear. I started having seizures and flashbacks. Everything would be dark, and there was so much pain. It was time to face this monster head on. I was so scared to tell anyone what had happened.

The Navy has a reputation for not believing rape victims. Thankfully I had a very understanding woman I could talk to. It’s been a year and a half since I came forward and since then life has been hell. The Navy sent me to counseling for “adjustment disorder.” They said that I didn’t acclimate well. I got to the point that I didn’t want to leave my bed. I was depressed and suicidal, but no one cared. I was told multiple times that I was just “one of those girls,” that “I must have just regretted it,” and that “I must have been asking for it.” I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. My doctor made me go over it again and again. She couldn’t believe that I couldn’t remember anything. She acted as though I was lying. I was scared to sleep at night because the nightmares had gotten so bad. I became a perfectionist, and everything had to go my way, or I would freak out. I was given anti-depressants and sleeping pills. It finally got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore, so I downed a bottle of sleeping pills and later down on my bed. I woke up the next day groggy and upset because my plan hadn’t worked so to numb the pain I started cutting. I was always careful to cut where no one would see. Soon cutting wasn’t enough. I started drinking to numb myself and make it through the day. It was to the point that I was drinking before work as well as after.

A Chief at my command smelled the alcohol on my breath one day and took me aside to ask me about it. I broke down. She became one of my closest confidants at that command. I was finally given a fresh start when I was transferred to a new command. It didn’t last, though. People talk, and it wasn’t long before people knew what had happened to me. I was getting the same looks and the same comments. It wasn’t long after that that the Navy decided to force me out. It’s been a rocky road for the past year. I got a new doctor who listened to me. My diagnosis was changed to PTSD. It’s been almost 3 years since I was raped and two and a half years since I came forward. I just found out they are dropping my case. They say I waited too long to come forward and they don’t have enough evidence. I’m now being told that I could be charged with lying in an official statement. This is the reason that women don’t come forward. I know several women with a similar story to mine, and it’s sad that this is how the military works. For people who say rape culture isn’t a thing think about this. A woman can say I was raped and the courts will ask for timelines, witnesses, rape kits, and other things. When the man says he didn’t do it, the court says okay, we believe you.

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