My Duty to Speak

U.S Soldier raped at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Anonymous, United States Army

I am stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, originally from New Jersey. I never said anything  about this because I was embarrassed because I broke down and took a plea deal where he plead guilty to adultery.

He was supposed to receive a letter of reprimand, to be confined for 45 days, to undergo 45 days of hard labor, to be restricted for 45 days, and to be reduced in rank to E-3. ..well I JUST now got an email from the Department of the Navy stating he was administratively discharged on 12 April 2013. And that “although I am approving this sentence, no hard labor without confinement or period of restriction was initiated prior to administrative separation” …an email 6 months after the fact, with a letter that was dated 26 April, basically saying “Oh, I’m sorry, he only did half of his punishment.”Which was an already reduced punishment in my opinion for what I’ve gone through because of him! ..I’m not sure what you can do with this information, but I figure someone should hear this besides the people he that have done NOTHING for me. I HOPE YOU CAN USE THIS STORY FOR SOMETHING GOOD!

On September 9, 2011 I lost all my trust in the military. That’s the night I decided to go out with someone I met through work, HM2, USN. I had worked with HM2 for a few weeks when he asked me to go with him and a few other co-workers to celebrate his last weekend in Bethesda. I agreed to this because I was under the impression it was going to be a group gathering. I wrote my phone number down on a piece of paper for him to contact me with the details, I was only told it was going to be a Friday night. He never contacted me but instead just showed up to my place of duty and offered to give me a ride to Downtown DC where we were to meet the others. No one else ended up showing up but I stayed and we danced at a few different clubs.

That night ended in a hotel room that I do not remember getting to. Between that moment and the next morning, I have hazy, intermittent memories of him having sex with me. The next morning I tried to forget it ever happened, I wanted to forget I ever met him. But that is when he continuously placed phone calls to my place of duty and even went as far as to drive 45 minutes out of his way to, I believe, intimidate me. The last phone call he placed is when I was blindsided with the information that this person is married, has three children, and has herpes. I wanted this to all go away, to forget it ever happened, but he chose to, once again, do the wrong thing.

I feel betrayed in two ways: I feel betrayed as a woman and I feel betrayed by the Navy as a soldier. I am 23 years old, hardworking, intelligent, and caring. I would never hurt someone on purpose. I would never maliciously attack, violate, or intimidate someone. Joining the Army is the only thing that has taken me away from home. I feel like some of my innocence was lost. The fact that I cannot remember getting to the hotel room has made me very depressed and has left me crippled with anxiety. Most of the anxiety stems from the fact that I cannot remember what happened, playing it back in my mind, wondering if just would have done “this” or “that”…maybe he wouldn’t have done this to me.

Sometimes I wake up out of my sleep, panicking, and lock myself in the bathroom until I can calm myself down. Other times I dream that I am trying to scream for help, but no noise comes out of my mouth. I feel so disgusting and horrible. This person also put me at risk of contracting an incurable disease. Thankfully, I have tested negative for herpes. During the time all of this happened I was taking two college classes. I received my first “D” and second “C” in my academic career. My goal in September 2011 was to get my Bachelor’s degree in Medical Imaging by January 2013. I also had specific goals to reach professionally, but I have yet to get that motivation back.

As a soldier, we are taught that being a Non-Commissioned Officer is an honor and a privilege bestowed upon those who earn it. That it’s a position held by someone who has not only proven themselves as a soldier, but as a leader. An NCO swears to “at all times conduct one’s self so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service, and their country” and to “never compromise their integrity”…but HM2 chose to bring shame to the military and himself. An NCO is something that I whole-heartedly aspired to be before this happened; now, I struggle with my motivation to continue to reach my goals and I no longer want to re-enlist and be a career soldier. This has affected not only me but my work place at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Radiology Department.

This “NCO” – HM2 – showed up to the Radiology department multiple times after he PCS’d down to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. The first two times I didn’t say anything. Then he called. And after I found out he was married he showed up again after calling a few times. All of this calling and showing up to work made me nervous and not a productive member of the team. And the phone calls took time that none of us had because we are a very busy department. The last time he showed up to work was a Friday, which is a flight night for us, we are busy. When I told a co-worker to ask him to leave he didn’t leave. So I waited about 15 minutes and he was still there. That’s when my co-worker got my Army NCO, SGT and I told him what happened and that HM2 needed to leave.

At that point three productive members to the Radiology team, on one of the busiest nights, were unavailable because HM2 would not leave. Not only were we unavailable for a portion of the night, I had to leave for the remainder of the shift because SGT told me to leave and go to a friend’s house to be safe. I was grilled and interrogated as if I had been the one who had done wrong, then I was given the run-around as to whom my counsel was and what, if any, progress was being made with this case. I can’t help but feel this is a systematic process that weeds out the faint of heart and tries to scare victims of assault into thinking that there isn’t a chance in hell that justice will be brought forth and they will be protected.

I gave my blessing for this plea deal because after 16 months, I cannot endure anymore. I have been treated like a criminal. I was re-victimized by Navy JAG officers who berated me for wanting to get an order of protection from this person who had already shown behavior that would warrant one. I would not have been put in this situation and treated the way I have been for the past 16 months had it not been for HM2’s actions the night of September 9, 2011 and thereafter with him showing up to work.


My Duty to Speak

TSgt raped at Sather Air Base Iraq

Mary Gallager,  United States Air Force

I was at Sather AB, Iraq in November 2009, this was my 3 tour to the region. I was having trouble with a co-worker and one night I went into to the bathroom as I came out of the stall he was standing there and threw me up against the wall and raped me and then told me “that is how you fuck a whore”. He left me there and when I finally left I went to my Commander who told that it is a “he said she said”. 12yrs of service went down the drain that night. From that point on the Air Force saw me damaged goods and they told me I had PTSD and medically discharged me just a year before I was a raising star doing what I love and now I spend my days at the VA, taking pills, and trying to find a reason to live!

My Duty to Speak

Mother speaks out about her rape as one of the first female Naval Aircrew Members

Ellen, United States Navy

My teenage son plans to apply for West Point, and it is my dream to help leave a legacy for him, including a fair and safe military. As he and I have discussed his goals, I’ve come to realize that I should tell my story to prevent what happened to me in 1989, during my enlistment as one of the Navy’s first female aircrew member, to prevent this from happening to future generations.

I have reached out to MST Survivors through social media, joined forces to help our newest survivors, and rallied around the movement which supports measures like the Military Justice Improvement Act. The MJIA takes the reporting, investigation, adjudication and victim care for cases out of the local unit chain of command. In my case, no one could have helped me, while I remained under the command and control of the aircrew culture which collectively had no regard for my presence among them. It’s unconscionable to me that the same climate exists today, as when I didn’t report my rapes, believing that my rapes were planned as retaliation for invading the “all boys club.” Just like me more than 20 years ago, I’ve learned 90 percent of victims are still afraid to report.

My rape occurred after I was selected to be the first enlisted female to attend Air Crew School. It was 1988, when I was raped, and I had just finished technical training as a Cryptologist, when I was 19. I believe I was selected for aircrew training because I was expected to fail, being that I wasn’t the best student in my tech school. I was very young, and thought surely a senior female Cryptologist already in the fleet would be better qualified. But, I accepted the challenge, and enjoyed the aircrew, and survival, schools, required to fly as a Cryptologist. The first evidence of the discord I was walking into happened after training.

I was assigned to a Naval Air Squadron, in Spain. On the first night at my new squadron, a group of senior co-workers took me to a Sangria bar in town. That evening, my co-workers disappeared leaving me stranded in a bar, in a new country. Unaware of the stigma of placing a female among the crew, I couldn’t understand why I was left behind? Trying to find my way back to the barracks, I felt very confused and frightened.

My first deployment from Spain, was to Athens Greece. As the only female of a 25 man crew, it quickly became clear that I had invaded a very tight fraternity, and my presence was resented. During the first night there, I was told that every time a newbie deploys they go out for “six shots of tequila.” I decided to go through with the initiation; my plan was to return to my room to sleep off the alcohol. It wasn’t uncommon for underage service members to drink while deployed during those days. But the next day, I learned I’d suffered a very different fate than a simple drinking-game initiation into the aircrew.

A female officer who had a room next to mine pulled me aside to tell me she heard men coming back from the bars, and knocking on my hotel door, throughout the night. Each time she opened her door they went away. I was horrified. The female officer made a report to our command, and an executive order immediately came down that our squadron prohibited all initiation drinking games, now that women were flying. From then on, I was totally isolated. Rumors were spreading that I had slept with more than one of the men on the aircrew. When their wives were present, I was avoided, and not included in social circles. My fellow air crew members avoided talking to me, and if they did, it was impersonal. I never felt so alone, like a stranger in a strange land.

Eventually, I was sent on another deployment to Greece. I felt I could manage my interactions with people to ensure what happened on my first deployment, didn’t happen again. So one evening, when I was asked by a quiet, married crew member to join him for a drink, I felt it was a safe, low-risk opportunity to socialize. The last thing I remember is having one drink with this man. I am confident I was drugged. The following morning I woke up black, blue and purple from head to toe. I had severe bruising and swelling between my legs. My vagina was raw. I was covered with vomit and bodily fluids. The man I had had one drink with was still there. But the bruising and the mess that was made in the night told me, there had been more than one visitor to my room. I soaked in a bath to rid myself of the disgustingness that was done to my body. I put on a turtle neck under my flight-suit to hide my bruised neck, and went to work broken.

We flew a very long mission that day, and no one made eye contact with me. I was convinced that all the male officers and enlisted, who wanted to get to me after the tequila initiation, finally got their chance to rape me. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, I will never know because I was too afraid to tell, and the situation was never investigated. I’m haunted by the possibility of what might have happened to me, unprotected, alone and betrayed. And I’m haunted by what did happen. Betrayal by someone I thought could be a safe place during a deployment, someone I could just talk to about our work, and the next day’s mission. I knew telling would cause me to lose my job; I was so young and afraid of these older, married aircrew members and their wives. Without proof, I’d most likely be charged with underage drinking, and feared even worse repercussions than social isolation that happened due to false rumors.

Once we returned to Spain from deployment, I was harassed by wives and girlfriends. They all suspected that I was having an affair with all of their spouses! I couldn’t reconcile how one man drugging and raping me, equated to the escalation of social stigmatization. I was dating a service member who had returned back to the states. Rumors reached him and he broke up with me. I never tried to explain my story to him, due to shame. As a result, my performance didn’t meet standards, and I was removed from air crew. I was placed in jobs where I didn’t have much contact with people. Thankfully, a female Master Chief took me under her wing. She was Christian so I started attending church at missionary houses, and was eventually baptized. I also met a very nice group of runners and tri-athletes whom I bonded with, and spent most time, off training, practicing to meet physical training standards, and races.

I believe God saved me from hurting myself, during the aftermath, by sending me compassionate people to help me. I separated from active duty in 1992, when I was 21; returned home and immediately joined the reserves and started college, repressing all of the sexual harassment, the personal attacks, and the rapist. My time in the reserves was very positive. Without stress, I was able to flourish, learn, and earn the respect of my co-workers. I was even selected to serve at a Joint Task Force several times to work in anti-narcotics. In 1994, I married, and in 1997 we had our first child. So, I decided to leave the reserves. Over the years I have not been able to forget my attack. I’ve had random bouts of anger when I’ve realize what I was cheated out of back in Spain. My innocence taken, my body defiled my reputation in ruins. I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and detachment from post traumatic stress disorder. I can’t fly in an aircraft without being heavily medicated, or I have severe unmanageable panic attacks. When I see aircraft flying above me I’m triggered. I do have shame for not reporting my attack, shame from taking part in underage drinking. I have health consequences, bladder conditions, and fibromyalgia. All of which stems from the horrific rape and aftermath I survived.

When I hear of the suicidality, errant mental health diagnosis, homelessness and poverty today’s MST Survivors are enduring, I wonder what I would have done, had I not had such an incredible support system with my husband who agreed that I should stay home to raise a family. I’ve found peace, as much as possible, in burying myself in my family life. I’ve dedicated myself to a life of service fostering 13 medically-fragile newborns, and working with a non-profit in Washington State to advocate for foster children. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I know that I have not reached my full potential, according to who I am as a woman, because of my fears of leaving the safe inner circle of my family. I know that thousands of survivors suffer a much worse fate.

More than twenty years later, it’s clear nothing has changed, things have gotten worse, and something must be done about this, now. Getting injured in the line of duty is one thing. But enabling a rapist, tolerating a culture which tolerates them, where they can hide undetected, is another. I believe it is our duty to speak out, and demand our government right these wrongs. It is unfortunate that to make this need a reality, it is necessary for me to share this very intimate, and personal tragedy, but it clearly is necessary.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

My Duty to Speak

U.S Sailor Gang Raped

Anonymous, United States Navy

On 16 November 2011 I was sitting at the ER at the Dayton VA and this male Veteran approached me and asked me “to go out back and have sex with him”. I said “what”, he said “let’s go out back and fuck”. It brought back all my memories that I had hidden for so many years. I just got up and went back home and took an extra 2 diazepam. I was at the ER for my anxiety in the first place. It brought back so many memories of what happened to me when I was active duty and what happened to my children.

First, it was in June 5th 1982, I was 18, and at my first duty station in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. I lived in the Bundy Barracks and worked for the Navy Exchange, (I ran a mini store at the main barracks). One night a friend named Sara asked me to go to the Seabee Club with her so I went one Saturday night, I remember we were talking to a couple of guys who had bought us a couple of cokes, I believe my coke was drugged because the next thing I remember was being at the bus stop alone the next morning waiting for a bus to be taken back to the Bundy Barracks. I do not remember what happened to Sara. As I was sitting there waiting for the bus I was having vivid memories of different men having sex with me, I did not know who they were or that they even knew me. I do not remember faces; all I could see in my mind was that there were several men. I have no clue as to whom or where I even was the night before or even how I got there.

The vivid memories I now have are of different men’s penises in my mouth and in my vagina at different times throughout the night. I remember I was in such a daze in and out. My body was limp and I remember just lying there with no control over anything I did or was being done to me. I remember being dragged from one bed to another I was completely out of it. I remember being at work the next Monday and this guy came in and told me everything that had happened I did not realize that all that had happened. He told me that at least 25 different guys had sex with me.

I then went to the Naval Hospital and was told that if I was to report it that I would be put out of the Navy because it was destruction of government property and that it was my fault for being at the club. I also became pregnant and was diagnosed with Herpes. I was also transferred from the department to MWR, because I didn’t fit in to the NEX as what I was told.

Second around August of 1982 this one guy wanted to date me, and I was to have sex with him or he would get my friend in trouble (he was base police), I did not want it nor did I like it but I felt coerced into doing it. That had occurred a few times. I was transferred to the gym to work I remember one day I was walking to work (I did not have a car) and these guys drove by me and yelled out hey that is the chick we all fucked that one night, (my pregnancy was showing at this time).

Third time was between November and December 1982; the boss at the gym (***** *****) made me perform oral sex. I went to my Sr. Military Officer and he told me that it was my word against the civilians and no one would believe me, he told me that if I perused it I would lose my career and how would I support my child and myself without the military. So I did not fight for my rights yet again. I then remember I was stationed at Gt. Lakes Naval Hospital, where as I was the administration assistant to a Lt. who was the department head. He and I worked in the same small office. He made sexual advances toward me all the time. Told me I would have great evaluations and he could do a lot for me if I did certain sexually things. I kept telling him no. Because of all the above I have never been in a “real” relationship. I spent most of my time with my children watching movies, playing kids games and doing kid things.

In September 1989, I received orders to Guantanamo Bay Cuba, and I had to leave my children behind until I received base housing. I worked with this Sr. Chief Corpsman for over a year he said he and his wife would take care of them. I paid them $1500.00, took over clothes and dropped my children and their clothes off with them. I came back 35 days later and picked up my kids to find them bruised and balled spots on their heads. Took them to a friend’s house (Dental Tech Chief), I put my kids in the bath and they had bruises all over them and cigar burns on their bottoms, I then took my kids to the Naval Hospital to get pictures taken and contacted NIS.

There were reports done, my girls ages 6 and 3 were both sexually abused and my 2 year old son was also. It took me 6 months to get my son to sleep on a bed and use a blanket and pillow. He would crawl in a corner and scream instead of going to sleep. November 1989 I started going to the Naval Hospital Mental Health Department and started medication for Depression and anxiety, due to the sexual, physical, emotional abuse my children suffered. My children were beat with a wooden spoon; my youngest two had bald spots all over their heads. My middle daughter was made to eat like a dog on the floor; she was also thrown down concrete stairs and hit a concrete wall at the bottom of the stairs with no medical attention and has caused brain damage. My middle daughter had gone through many tests when she was 4, for brain damage and she was place on ritalin at age 4, and diagnosed as Mental Retarded at age 9 and Borderline Personality Disorder at age 18. She has been so hard to deal with her behavior has been so out of control several times I have had to call the police but they told me since she is not being abused there is nothing that they can do. I did all that I could do that I had to give up guardianship a few years ago because I could not handle it any more. She is 27 and still requires 24/7/365 care.

Since I got out of the Navy, in 1992, I have been homeless 5 times and have moved 13 times because I don’t feel comfortable where I was living. I’ve had at least 16 jobs since I have been out of the Navy. I have not ever worked in the field of social work, which I have my degree in.

My Duty to Speak

Senior Airman raped in Okinawa

Sarah, United States Air Force

It all began 22 March 2003. I landed in a foreign land as a technical school graduate. After departing my flight I got settled into this new land called Okinawa. When I finally got acclimated to the shop I met my first supervisor, Staff Sergeant ***** Our first supervisor/trainee session was at CoCo’s, the local curry shop. Since this was all new to me, I thought that this was how bonds were built between the ranks. Then **** began telling me about all of his heterosexual and homosexual relationships he had been having on the island. Mind you, this man was married with a child. I began to feel like this encounter was not going as it should and was feeling very uncomfortable about the topic.

After our food came he propositioned me. He said, “If you have sex with me I will give you a five out of five on your performance report. If not, I will give you a one and take away all hopes of your having any type of successful career in the military.” I held off on his advances. Every day I worked with him was a day I would dread. He would ask questions such as: “If this tool were my penis, what would you do with it?” I avoided him at all costs. There was only one other female in the shop. One day we were having a drink and ****’s  name was mentioned and I told her what was going on. Later she informed the Flight Chief without my knowledge. The next thing I knew, I was being questioned in the Flight Chief’s office and I told him everything that was going on. He changed my shift and supervisor. Then he swept the incident under the rug because it was clear that Staff Sergeant **** was the flight’s golden child who received all of the awards.

I’m not quite sure whether I developed an allergy to jet fuel or if it had something to do with all the stress I was under in my shop. Either way, I could no longer do my duty as a fuel system mechanic. In October I began working for the squadron doing odds and ends jobs. In March the dorm needed an escort to take Okinawans in and out of the dorm rooms so they could work on the fire suppression system. I began working with the contractors and one of the men began to become very friendly with me. I just ignored his behavior, not seeing him as threatening. He would point to his penis and say “piku, piku.” I ignored him because I didn’t know what that meant.

Then on 29 March 2004 we went to room 145 of building 600. I was reading a Playstation magazine article about a samurai video game. He came over and asked to look at the article. I showed it to him and he took his phone out and showed me a picture of his baby daughter. Then he put his phone away and grabbed my shoulders and started to rub them. I pushed his hands away and made an “X” with my arms and told him to go back to work. Then he grabbed my breasts and began rubbing them. I made an “X” with my arms and told him no and to go back to work. Then he grabbed for my BDU (battle dress uniform) pants and unbuttoned them and began stroking my groin area with his fingers. I pushed him away and made an “X” and told him to work. Then I pulled out my phone and texted my boyfriend at the time who then stayed with me the rest of the shift. That was on a Friday. On Monday, my boyfriend informed the dorm chief what had transpired on Friday.

I begged to speak with my First Sergeant but was denied. First the dorm chief spoke with the lead contractor. He brushed it off. Then she received approval from her squadron to call the security forces and they showed up along with the Okinawan police. I identified my attacker out of a lineup and continued asking to speak with my First Sergeant. Then the Okinawan police took me back to the room and had me reenact everything while they took pictures. At this point I still had not seen or spoken with my First Sergeant and the Okinawan police took me to their police station. They allowed no English speaking person to be with me at any time. My squadron Commander, First Sergeant, and Flight Chief were all too busy to come to the police station to find out what was going on. So the squadron sent a random Staff Sergeant whom I had never met to assist me in any way he could. Once again I had to identify my attacker from another lineup. I gave my statement and signed something that I think was what I had said to the police officers, however I wasn’t sure because it was all in kanji, the written language of Japan.

After the Okinawan police had finished their questioning, I had to go to the Military Law Enforcement Desk, which instructed me to return the next day. When I returned, I had to first give my statement to a detective, and then I had to write my statement out completely. After all that, I was finally allowed to see my First Sergeant. After I began talking to the First Sergeant, he pulled me into the Commander’s office. My Commander told me I was too emotional for the situation and that he didn’t want me in “his” military. He then called the mental health clinic and began asking how he could get me discharged from the military. So the process of being separated from the service began while I was dealing with the sexual assault. After that I met with the military prosecutor and again told the details of my traumatic event. Finally I made it to the Okinawan prosecutor. He told me the man who had sexually assaulted me would not be tried.

I was told by this prosecutor that it was my attacker’s first time and that because his wife had just had a baby, what he had done to me was ok. At this juncture, the people above me tried discharging me from the military on two separate occasions and they failed each time. After three years in Japan, I was sent to McChord AFB in Lakewood, WA. I was working with a therapist on getting over my trauma overseas. And then, while at home one day, I was raped. I was the head coach of the squadron soccer team and one of the players was a Master Sergeant in my flight. There had been a couple of complaints about his behavior to Military Equal Opportunity, information I wish I had known beforehand. On the last Friday of April we played a hard game and lost, not surprising since we didn’t win any games that season. I went home as usual, cleaned up and sprawled out on my futon to watch a movie.

I received a couple of phone calls from a Master Sergeant **** asking me to go out to a bar with him. I told him no and that I was going to sleep. Around 10:00 p.m. I received a knock on the door. I looked out the peephole, saw that it was Master Sergeant ****, and thinking something important was going on I opened the door. From that point on my life was in fast forward to pause to slow motion to the end. When I opened the door I could smell the booze on his breath. He grabbed my arm and took me to my bedroom. He threw me on my bed and tore off my clothes. He held a knife to my throat. I asked him what he was doing. He didn’t answer.

Then I froze. Within a split second, I had flashbacks of every trauma I had ever experienced. Then he was on top of me with his pants down and he began the act of raping me. He first began by inserting his penis into my vagina. It seemed like he was rocking back and forth forever. Then he told me to tell him that I wanted him to cum inside me. Wanting things to end, I said it. Then he came. Then he flipped me over and began to sodomize me. I just remember the pain and then him telling me to say the same phrase to him again. So I complied again. He pulled his black boxers and black Levis up. He then hit me a couple of times and told me no one must know of our relationship. So I kept quiet.

About the end of May I had been drinking and when someone mentioned Master Sergeant ***, I began to cry and told them I had been raped by him. Little did I know that by revealing this information, I would eventually be victimized again by deceit and falsehoods. In late July my Commander promised to hold my hand during an entire Office of Special Investigations inquiry. I believed her, but unfortunately that turned out to be a blatant lie. When I finally gathered up enough courage to talk to the investigators, I let them know all that had happened. They did their investigation and then they called Master Sergeant **** in for questioning. He claimed that on the night in question, the team was going to a bar to hang out. He said he went to my place to pick me up to go with, but that I had told him I didn’t want to go and that we sat and had a drink. Once the Commander heard his story she backed away from me and said she couldn’t choose sides. She then told me that his wife had just had a baby and that this was his first offense. She then assigned Master Sergeant **** to a workstation 100 yards away from mine which meant that I would have to see him each and every day when I left or came to work. Some days he would approach me and I would have anxiety attacks. Other times I was forced to be in the same room with him. That year I was hospitalized in the psychiatric unit seven separate times. The Commander grew angry and told me that I needed to have bearing and to start behaving like a good Airman.

After being hospitalized a few times I lost all faith in the military and its elite brotherhood through thick and thin and requested a medical discharge. I missed out on making rank—something I had been looking forward to—but I thought I would be able to stop reliving the trauma with the military no longer there. That did not work. Sometimes I get down on myself, thinking I didn’t go to war so why do I get to be a veteran? I did what only one percent of the general population does. I signed that dotted line and said I would march into battle for my country if called upon. I just wasn’t called upon. Because of the traumatic experiences I had on the homefront, I had to take care of that first before they would send me to any more traumatic places, which is why I still am a veteran. I am proud to be a veteran. I think all veterans should be proud. I’ve been in inpatient psychiatric units on approximately ten separate occasions. When you are in the inpatient unit, you are stripped of everything, given pajamas to wear all day, and are medicated. When you’re in the unit you cannot leave for any reason other than a discharge. There is a possibility that you can be put into four-point restraints. Once you become stable enough to return to real life, they then release you. But what is real life when you live with post-traumatic stress disorder?

My Duty to Speak

Woman Veteran sexually harassed while going for rape counseling at the VA

Hello. I posted this several places. I hope that somebody at the VA can read this and do something about it. I am a 25 year old woman veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted from being raped while serving in the U.S Army. Every single time that I go for rape counseling at the Phoenix VA Medical Center I get sexually harassed by other patients. No matter how bad I look the harassment is inevitable.

One recent afternoon I was still crying after my counseling session. I was waiting for the elevator to go to another appointment. I had my head down and tears rolling down my cheeks when a man wearing a Vietnam Veteran ball cap came up to me, put his arm around my shoulders and told me that I am “too pretty to be crying”. I pushed him away from me and it offended him. He asked why I was acting so “bitchy” if he was “only trying to help me.”

Here is a man that is old enough to be my father and he felt entitled to just come up to me, comment on my looks, tell me my emotions are invalid and then touch me.

I wish that I can say that this was an isolated incident. As a young woman veteran being sexually harassed or even worse when I go for rape counseling at the VA is something that I have to suffer through every week. When you complain to anyone in position at the VA regardless if it is the patient advocate or the women veteran program manager or even the office of the VA’s Director they refuse to take any actions and it is always “I am sorry that you feel this way” as if feeling bad for being sexually harassed when going for rape counseling is somehow my fault.

I have spoken to other women veterans that feel the same exact way. Some even stopped going to the PhoenixVA all together and are ignoring their health need. Women are veterans too. We earned the right to go to the VA for treatment. However when even the staff at the PhoenixVA sees nothing wrong with women veterans being sexually harassed on a regular basis how are things ever going to change?

There are an estimated 19,000 rapes each year in the military. Roughly 10% of all rapes are ever reported. Over 98% of rapists in the military never spend a day in prison and almost all of them receive an Honorable Discharge when they leave the service. Many of these rapists end up at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and continue to terrorize their female comrades.

My Duty to Speak

A Male Marine and Nearly Two Decades of Shame and Silence

Adapted from “I’ve Got the T-Shirt and the Trauma Response to Go With It”

As a vocal male survivor, when I’m not talking about sexual violence in writing or before audiences, I’m reading about it in many contexts and sources. A great deal of what I read on a daily basis is written with the implication that military men don’t experience sexual violence or have no experiences that parallel those of female survivors.

Those making such arguments are often NOT sexual violence survivors themselves. Encountering such memes can be quite painful when you are a rape survivor yourself. The problem is not that female survivors receive the majority of the attention when sexual violence is discussed. The problem is that when sexual violence is discussed with regard to male survivors, there is often resistance, condescension, and outright mockery by people who quite often have not experienced such violence themselves. For those who have lived through abuse at the hands of women, that can be doubly wounding.

I’ve lived through sexual violence. I have my own story and my own experiences. I have my own triggers and my own issues.  This is my story.


Approximately twenty years ago I met a friend at a club in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He came with a female friend. During the night, he disappeared leaving his friend by herself and without a ride. As she was pregnant and without a ride, I agreed to take her home when I left. She had not been out in a while and wanted to stay until the club closed that night. While she was not drinking, she bought me a few thank you drinks for agreeing to drive her home.

After a few drinks, I became very tired and disoriented. I never drank until I got drunk, especially when driving and off base. I didn’t like the feeling and it wasn’t secure off base. I just figured I was tired and had too much without realizing it. There was a motel next to the club. She suggested we get a room and sleep it off, then I could drive her home in the morning. I agreed as I was rapidly losing the ability to think or see straight.  She got us a room with double beds and we split the cost.

I vaguely remember laying down with my clothes still on. I probably took off my shirt per the norm, but I left my pants on. I did not feel comfortable taking my pants off around this strange woman. She warned me that she did not want to have sex and I remember saying that I was seeing someone and was not at all interested in that either. I laid down on my side of the room and was out almost immediately.

At some point in the night, I awoke to find her on top of me. I said something I cannot remember and she coaxed me back to sleep. I doubt very much that she could even understand what I was saying, given how disoriented I felt at that time.

The next morning, after the sun had risen, I woke again feeling confused and unsure of where I was or what had transpired since getting off work on Friday afternoon. My pants were nowhere to be seen, my underwear also missing and my penis was erect. I realized that she was on top of me, grinding and moaning. I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t fucking her. I didn’t want to fuck her. Who was she again? I moved as my legs were stiff and sore from being in the same position for hours with her on top of me.

She darted her eyes at me and told me not to move. I was ordered “don’t be forceful.” She then implied that I was trying to rape her when I could not remain perfectly still and again told me not to move. In addition, I was told that I could hurt the baby if I tried to stop it. After she finally finished, I was still expected to drive her home and was not dismissed until late that evening, after sunset.

In short, I was drugged, raped, threatened and had a baby used against me as a human shield. To say that experience left me messed up would be an understatement.

Put yourself in my shoes for a minute. I was under 21, drinking illegally in a club, while on active duty with a local, pregnant civilian. Why didn’t I report it? Read this paragraph again and think about it harder if it eludes your grasp.

The Reaction

How did I react? I buried it deep and pretended it didn’t happen, which is a common reaction for male survivors. That did not mean that it had no effect on me. I simply pretended it didn’t happen.  I called it a bad night and said she was a little twisted.  I tried my best not to ever think about it.

As one therapist would later tell me, denial of trauma does not mean it isn’t affecting you. I believe she said that if unacknowledged, the effects would “come out sideways” and in a manner that may not be easily identifiable.  For me, that was a sudden and ridiculous promiscuity that did not exist before the rape. I began to act out sexually by sleeping with any woman who offered. I turned down no one, to include several much older, married women. I did not seek out sex, I simply said yes every time.

To say that I was reckless then would be accurate. I was risking exposure to disease and potential violence from angry husbands and boyfriends. I did this for about three years before getting married and stuffing the memories down deep. Further, I lost nearly all trust in women – especially aggressive and loud women.

Nearly twenty years later, I decided to confront it. The time had come to do something about it. I sought out assistance and began to see a therapist. I spent a lot of time on me, thinking, analyzing and progressing. It was painful, but necessary work. I’m not done with it. I don’t know that I’ll ever be truly done.

While in therapy, it was as if the bandage had been ripped off suddenly and the wounds were newly raw. I had panic attacks, crying fits, sudden anger and loss of time. I felt exposed all the time, everywhere.

I had trouble being alone with a woman in a confined space like an office or elevator. Some days, I didn’t even want to stand next to a woman in line for a cup of coffee.  I felt guilty all the time. I still feel guilty quite often. I feel guilty because I don’t trust women I don’t know. I feel guilty because I sometimes view women, particularly loud and aggressive white women, as potential threats to my well-being and mental health. I feel guilty because for a long time, I couldn’t look at a pregnant woman without seeing that sick woman from so many years ago.  I still notice when a pregnant woman is near me, but that doesn’t always result in a panic attack.  Yeah, I know, it sounds ridiculous.  Since when did PTSD, rape or emotions ever make sense?

I still struggle with some of these issues today, but not as often and not always in such intensity as before.  Presently, I have returned to my prior human resources career. This field is dominated by women and has proved a big test for me.

The biggest test is sometimes just getting through the day without losing it. Some days pass without issue, while on other days I just have to give myself a hall pass so I can get on with my life.


James Landrith is a healing rape survivor, public speaker, internationally syndicated blogger, civil liberties activist and the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist (ISSN: 1552-3446) and The Abolitionist Examiner (ISSN: 1552-2881). Landrith can be reached by email at: or at his personal website/blog.

Coast Guard, My Duty to Speak

Coast Guardsman raped twice, still serving with rapist.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

A Coastie had poker night at his house. Only three Coasties attended. The other Coastie was the designated driver because he is a mormon and does not drink nor does he even play poker. Now that I think about it I am not even sure why he attended.  Knowing that I didn’t have to worry about driving myself home I drank and had a good time.

DD pulled into a parking lot of an office complex. It was evening on a Saturday and the parking lot was dark and empty.He told me to get out of the car. I asked him why and he said to just do it. I didn’t think much about it. He told me to sit down on the ground.  I thought it was weird but did it anyway. He raped me.

After he finished with me he told me to get back into his car. I was very numb and I did what he told me to. He drove me to his home. At his house he raped me again. He then told me to wash myself. He called me a dity slut and told me that I should be ashamed at myself for having sex in public. He said that all women are slut. He was very angry. He kept on swearing at me about how slutty and promiscuous that I was and how much I should hate myself for it.

As instructed I took a shower at his house. I was numbed and scared.

He told me to get back into his car. I don’t remember much after that.

Somehow I ended up at home. I woke up on my bed naked. I was still obviously very drunk. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I felt very ashamed.

Everybody loves the rapist. He’s the one that is always kissing everyone’s ass. Not to mention he is a of higher rank than me. I wasn’t going to report him.

I kept the rape to myself not telling a sole.  One night I was home and felt as if I was reliving the assault all over again. I went online and found out about RAINN. I did their online chat and they told me that they don’t have listed any support from the Coast Guard in my state. They told me instead to talk to the national guard and gave me a contact number. After talking to RAINN for a while I was able to feel more calm and it helped me.

I did not call the National Guard right away. I was very hesitant to talk to anyone. I liked RAINN because I was able to remain anonymous at the online chat but picking up the phone and talking to someone was very scary for me. Several weeks later I felt the same feeling like I was reliving the rape. I chatted with RAINN again and they told me the same thing as last time.

I looked at the National Guard website and was able to pull out the email address of the SARC that they gave me the number to. I set up an anonymous email account and emailed the SARC. She responded right away and said that she can certainly help me even though I am in the Coast Guard. She told me to call her. I waited a few weeks to call her but glad that I finally did!

First few phone calls I was hesitant to even give her my real name. She did not care. She said that she understood and was very nice to me. I was afraid that she would tell the Coast Guard what happened and that I’ll lose my career! I told her about how I feel like I am being raped all over again. She says that it is very common and it is called a flashback. We probably talked 6 times on the phone, still I was anonymous until I gained the courage to give her my real identity and meet with her in person.

I also emailed the Coast Guard SARC but never received a response. One day I got a sudden burst of bravery and called the Coast Guard SARC in my district but since I refused to give my name I was hung up on. Picking up the phone and saying: “Hello. My name is so and so and I do not know you but I want to report a rape” is freaking hard! Why can’t they understand that? Sometimes saying “Hello. I rather be anonymous for now. I was raped. What can you do for me?” is much easier. I do not know if this is a Coast Guard policy or just this specific SARC has a paranoia problem. Either way why was the National Guard able to talk to me when I did not feel comfortable sharing my name but not the Coast Guard?

The National Guard SARC said that everything that I tell her would be kept confidential and I have nothing to worry about with my command finding out. She was very nice. I opened up to her. She defintely wanted to help me. I told her about what I knew about how the Coast Guard treated rape survivors. I even told her about the Coast Guard SARC. She says that she only heard nightmares coming out of the Coast Guard and now she is seeing it first hand. She says she agrees that the Coast Guard is not doing their part to help rape survivors but since I came to her through RAINN that she would treat me the same way she treats those in the Guard.  What kind of reputation does the Coast Guard have?

She set me up with counseling. I did not like the counselor. It was nothing that the counselor did wrong except it was just not a good fit for me. The SARC right away got me an appointment with another counselor that I felt very comfortable talking to and who I still see today. I really like how she took into account my feelings. This SARC needs to win SARC of the year. She has  been great!

The SARC also recommended that I talk to the Military Rape Crisis Center because they are pretty much the experts when it comes to Coast Guard rape. I emailed Panayiota with my fake email address and she also reassured me that it is all confidential. After several weeks of her helping me without even knowing who I was I finally disclosed my real identity. I email her these super long rants that does not make much sense yet she always have the right thing to say.  She been a lifesaver!

Panayiota hooked me up with a yoga program specifically for those with PTSD that I am trying my best to continue going because I know it’ll be helpful. It is hard to go and be around other people. I became very isolated since the rape. I don’t even want to leave my home most days.

Earlier this week we received an email from the Vice-Commandant for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Rapist made a huge deal about it and said that it is horrible that women are being raped.  He printed out the poster and put one on everyone’s desk. It makes me want to barf.   I serve with a bunch of people that start every rape prevention discussion with: “Many women would lie about rape.”  I rather be raped a million and one more times than have any of them find out what happened to me. May can’t come soon enough if I have to hear rape this rape that every day in April from my rapist.

I am diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Every evening I drink until I black out. I can’t sleep any other way. I am afraid to even leave my house. I go to work. I come home and repeat it 5 days a week. On days off I stay home. I have been a cutter in high school and recently fell back into this habit. Thighs, feets, breasts, stomach anywhere that is covered by a uniform is now filled with cuts or scars. I vist this website because it keeps me sane knowing that I am not alone.

I do not know how much longer I can go through with this. Everyday is a struggle.  I can not do this any longer.  I give up.