My Duty to Speak

Solider recalls surviving multiple assaults, harassment and domestic violence.

Anonymous, United States Army

I wanted to join the military since I was about 12, although no one in my family had ever joined. I had been enamored with it after seeing the Navy women in my hometime in their beautiful uniforms. The Army got me, instead, after being convinced by the Army recruiter. That should have been my first clue…the recruiter!! On a trip with him for some documents, he attemtped to coerce me to have sex. I said no, I screamed no, but was so very scared because I didn’t even know where I was…some other town he’d taken me to. The powers that be were looking out for me that day since when I began to get out of his car, to walk, who should be driving down the road but a police cruiser.

He begged me to get back in the car, that he would take me straight home…I complied and he did take me home. I never saw him again…a few days later when I went to report it, I don’t know what the truth was, but I was informed that he’d retired? When I’d shared with my mom what had happened, she said she’d warned me she didn’t think it was a good idea to join the service. After that incident, I didn’t want to go on active duty anymore, not fully understanding what I was getting myself into, but the new recruiter lied to me, saying I could not get out of the delayed enlistment program. So, I shipped out.

We were some of the first women recruits that trained with the men. It was an experience not expected by me, or many of the other women, but training had nothing to do with it. I was used to a lot of guys around me, having nothing but brothers, male cousins, and male uncles around while growing up. Additionally, I considered myself as a tomboy, so I had no trouble with guys. Yet, basic was like nothing I’d been exposed to. So many men, so many troubled men, at least in our company. For the most part, most of the women were sexually harassed (we didn’t know it was called that then), including from the training personnel. I made it through basic, moving on to AIT, but know what? The harassment continued. Sheesh, you’d think we had some statement written on our foreheads…leer at me, touch me, grope me, stalk me…NOT!! I was so ready to be done with the whole training time, but little did I know that even in permanent party, the end was not to be.

While living in the barracks, asleep on my cot, whence my roommate left our door unlocked, an unknown to me soldier attempted to rape me as he gained access to the women’s side of the barracks. I woke up at that time, fighting him off, chasing him out of my room, down the exit stairway, never knowing who he was, surmising he must have been on guard duty and knew about that door many times left with a wedge by some of the women, so as to make it easier for them to gain access to the barracks without having to go all the way around the building. Bad idea, even worse place for me, never felt safe in the barracks after that.

Eventually, I moved out of the barracks, marrying a fellow soldier who had been a charmer while we were dating. Who would have known? Not me…not even a clue!! Some say one doesn’t really get to know a person, until one lives with them. I dare say that can be so true, certainly was true for me!! I had no idea, so unexpected. The first weekend after we married, I learned who he was, really. It took a knock down, being shocked by it, to realize that I was in trouble. He was devious, very much so, waiting until the weekend, so he could terrorrize me the entire weekend, which left me without seeming able to figure things out. Something happened to me that weekend…no longer that brave young woman…I had lost something…seemed to have become immobilized by fear!!

Nobody knew what was happening to me, on a routine basis, whenever he was around. He always made sure the bruises were not visible, bruises always hidden by the uniform, or other clothing. I honestly did not know how to make it stop, nor what to do about it, still keeping it to myself. I became a shadow of who I’d been, but kept a low profile at work, stayed away from people I knew, so nobody would notice, and nobody ever did. Eventually, I told my mom, my dad, and my best friend back home, but nobody in the command, or near, knew how I was being terrorrized.

Eventually, I felt so beaten down, became very depressed, always in an anxious state, just waiting for the next hit, the next threat, the next sexual assault by him. It took the final of three days when he pulled a rifle on me, threatening to kill me, after he’d humiliated me sexually, threatening to dismember me to get away with it, that I took myself to the medical dispensary in such a state of despair, depression, and anxiety, besides a headache that I now had after getting knocked upside the head by him, yet again. I was still too scared, shamed, or I can’t even explain it, but I did not tell what had been happening to me, just that I was depressed and in a nervous state. Guess what they did for me? Nothing!! The woman medic that saw me did not even explore anything, nor sent me for an evaluation with the PA, just gave me meds for the headache, even as she wrote the symptoms in my medical records. Hindsight is 20/20 as is said, but at that time, I still did not tell. I requested a transfer out of the country, just to get as far away from my soldier husband as I could get, but it was denied because we were short on personnel. So, I trudged on, continuing in the daily routine of abuses, until my discharge from the service and my divorce from him.

I had to leave the state to get away from him. I made a new beginning for myself, eventually remarrying a good man, but the memories from that awful time in my life never left me, neither did the fears, or my reactions. I have been in mh treatment for more years than I’ve been alive. Yet, I still wake up in a sweat, being chased, when I awaken from the throes of those nightmares. I have not found healing yet. I managed to carve out a good life for myself, and my family,even as my children grew up with a mother whose pain they did not understand because I put myself somewhere else in my mind, so that I could take care of them. My boys are all grown men now,finally know my story, and I still have a very good life, but the memories still haunt me…

My Duty to Speak

Military Sexual Trauma: An Epidemic

Panayiota Bertzikis, United States Coast Guard and Luisa Valdez, United States Army share their story about being raped while serving in the US Armed Forces.

My Duty to Speak

The rapes of a U.S Soldier.

Valori Slaughter, United States Army

My name is Valori Slaughter, I joined the Army on December 16, of 1996 and was discharged February 7, 2008 after over eleven years of honorable service. I left the Army with a misconduct narrative because I spoke out and stood up for my rights. This is my whole story:

February 1999 I gave birth to a little boy as a single mother at the age of nineteen. He is now thirteen years old. He is the result of being raped by a recruiter, I was told by my local jag officer that they would not pursue him for rape. He told them he never touched me and a CPT from the Oklahoma Military Department JAG stated that because, “He is an E-7 with a meticulous record and I’m an E-3, who did I think they would believe?” Young and naïve, I believed that they would believe me because I was telling the truth. I was wrong and they explained that too me, despite of my three month old son who happened to also be evidence sitting on my knee. The Major who spoke to me in the presence of now State Command Sergeant Major of Oklahoma as my witness, asked me to please not go to the media in exchange for help with DNA to establish paternity, and at the least gain financial support to help raise my son.

My son is thirteen and DNA has never been established. I had planned on transferring into the Active Duty side of the United States Army and due to single parenthood was held from my goal until 2005. At that time I did make the transfer and join the Active Duty side of the Army. It was a dream come true, and I had long time awaited for the chance to truly serve my country, I felt a strong calling to do so. Financial situations caused by problems from military pay began Causing strain on my family with no money or food; unknowingly coping with past triggers from my assault I found myself in Darnell Hospital on a three day suicide watch after attempting to end my life. The same week that I had been released from the hospital after attempting suicide my squad leader a SSG found it necessary to have me sign a counseling statement releasing him of all liability so that he could bring me to the rifle range. Shortly after the range my husband and I learned I was pregnant. Due to the pregnancy I was transferred into a battalion that was standing up in attempts to give me a little extra time with my child after birth. This battalion was new being completely stood up from scratch. All soldiers were transfer soldiers. I was placed in Delta Company 3/227th Aviation Regiment 1st Cavalry Division, 1ACB, Fort Hood, Texas.

My unit was deployed in October 2006 into Taji, Iraq, just three short months after giving birth to my now five year old son. I went to my command and requested a waiver from my pregnancy profile, I wanted to be there with my unit from step one and participate with them all the way through, this would be my second deployment and comrade is built in the building and tearing down phases of an deployment, I sincerely wanted to be part of my unit. I was able to move back into my shop in November of 2006. This is when the first signs of harassment and inappropriate behavior started appearing. I started being hazed by my squad leader, making me carry an ammo can with, “I lost my ID Card” Painted on the side, and carried on with other forms of hazing all documented in my board hearing. In March another NCO within my section started showing me pictures of his exposed genitalia, and one evening while doing a ground guiding mission he ordered me to come help him. On our 2AM mission in pitch dark he asked me to hand me my hand, not thinking anything of it due to the nature of our job I found myself being forced to touch his erect exposed penis. The next day I approached Sgt R who was my squad leader with that information and he promised he would handle it. Over the course of the next few months not only did the behavior from the SGT S not stop but the behavior from Sgt. R became very sexually charged. Sgt R was now taking advantage of the situation with SGT  S and sexually harassing me himself!

My First Sergeant temporarily moved me to work Battalion level with Sgt. S which was a relief to me. I was happy to be out of the situation completely. The things that my squad leader asked me and the comments that he made were completely not called for. Things like, “do I shave my kitty?” and more and worse. I finally had opportunity to turn in the situation on a Command Climate Survey so that I would not have to face further harassment. I figured this way I could address the issue without attracting any more danger. And I could keep my name completely out of it. In my board proceedings my Sergeant First Class admitted telling his NCO’s to break the confidentiality portion of the survey and find out who answered yes on that survey. So my NCO only had 6 women in our section and he directly confronted all of us. I was not going to lie, but made it clear that this was information given on a Command Climate Survey Anonymously. After being questioned for over an hour by SFC V I finally broke down and told him who and what, he said so that he could prevent this behavior further.

A 15-6 investigation was then prompted as a result of the Command Climate Survey and when responding to a question that asked me at what point did I feel uncomfortable and did it step over the line of being professional to being unprofessional. Apparently the fact that I was there for that conversation being harassed opened me up for an Article 15 for Inappropriate Relations with an NCO. As part of my Article 15 I was given 14 days additional duty where I was supervised by both the NCO who sexually assaulted me, and my squad leader who sexually harassed me following the sexual assault. I confronted my command with this issue and asked to be moved, this request was also submitted in writing to my Brigade Commander who declined my request. I challenged the Article 15 with my chain of Command and had letters written in my behalf to senators and congressman relaying the treatment I was going through. I could feel my eleven years of service being taken from me. I was stripped down to E-3, spoke to my Brigade Commander on the 14th of September who in the presence of Chaplain Fox stated to me that there was not enough information to merit removing me from service. I was informed my congressional had hit on the 16th, and told that my Brigade Commander had changed his mind on the 17th. Before my board I asked to speak to my Brigade Commander again so I could ask directly why he had changed his mind. His response was along the lines of my behavior being that I left the day room crying and such made me look vulnerable and somehow welcomed sexual assault and harassment. That is paraphrased, but I do have the whole conversation on audio and also have had it transcribed as much as possible for evidence.

I was accused of crying wolf, and told by my First Sergeant that there is a Rampant problem in our brigade and that is the reason why I must have a female in addition to three other people in the room with us when speaking to me. And probably the most shocking event was in my actual board hearing when my Commander  openly admitted that he felt like I caused the harassment and assault committed against me, and acknowledges not only that he knew that I had been assaulted but that he did not feel the need to report it to the Criminal Investigative Division. The week before my misconduct board I was raped. The soldier raped me, and told me he picked me because he knew my Command wouldn’t believe me. I reported this rape to the Chaplain who over saw the Mudd House, I turned it into to the Psychologist right after the fact, and was blown off, literally told by the Psychologist that Taji is not the time to get my feet wet. I was not going to be believed. At the least he proved that in the Army’s eye rape is nothing. I kept the rape to myself until after my board proceedings because I feared that my Command would use it against me just as they did in my Article 15 hearing. I was discharged fully honorably with a misconduct narrative.

I was told so that I can go to the VA to seek medical help for the sexual trauma. Common PTSD reactions and responses normal to trauma were pounced on to build a misconduct package to discredit me, besides the intentional scenario’s my command built in order to set me up to make me look like I was not doing what I was supposed to do, when in actuality they were giving me the wrong times and information. I was very clearly being retaliated against by my Command, and it is very clearly documented in tape recorded conversations, meetings, and in my board transcripts.

My Duty to Speak

Rape in the Army

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.

My Duty to Speak

Raped by a fellow soldier

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.

My Duty to Speak

United States Army recruiter RAPED

that1chick, United States Army

In 1995 I was Department of the Army selected (DA Selected) to be a recruiter. It was the most exciting time of my military career. Shortly after I finished recruiter school, I was promoted to Staff Sergeant. I believed in the Army and the NCO Creed and tried my hardest to live up to it. I believed that the Army had my back as long as I did what was expected of me—as long as I made mission.

When I got to my recruiting station in Chicago, the first thing my station commander (One of two names I will never forget) SFC ****. told me was he did not want me at his recruiting station. I should have taken that as a warning. This was the beginning of my hell on earth existing as a recruiter. In 1996 I was raped in that recruiting station by a Marine recruiter.

The next day, as a way to cope, the words of the NCO Creed resonated in my mind as I worked like a robot trying to make mission. I tried to bury what happened to me in my mind and continue my mission. I was a nervous wreck I was scared to run into SGT **** (the other name I will never forget) as I tried to do my mission. Finally, a friend in another unit, SFC ****, drove me to the police station –because I wouldn’t go myself out of fear–to file reports with them and NCIS at Great Lakes.

What a joke that turned out to be. I did the requisite rape kit and police report a few days later. I went through with it expecting to be protected and validated somehow. The local police told me they could not assist me with what happened because I was in the military. I was stonewalled by NCIS when I tried to press charges against SGT ***. Once the case was closed, I became the source of insult, ridicule, and gossip. NCIS even told me I should have been grateful that a Marine raped me.

I was rejected and dehumanized by everyone in my unit. I had a scarlet letter on my forehead. I constantly had migraine headaches and anxiety attacks because the battalion abandoned me –no one had my back. No one wanted to work with me –I had no way out of recruiting duty so had to complete my mission. As I struggled to hold onto my dignity and integrity, I became the problem child of the battalion. I almost never made mission because I was blackballed.

The MEPS disqualified my applicants so I had to work weekends to try to do it. SFC **** refused to transfer me out of the recruiting station or assist me in any way. The entire battalion knew what happened to me, they whispered about it and called me a slut and wacko behind my back. The female recruiters denigrated and rejected me as if I was lying about being raped by the bastard.

I had to look at my rapist every day for six months until my complaints finally reached the brigade Sergeant Major. He forced SFC **** to transfer me to another recruiting station. The rumors got to my new recruiting station faster than I did. The transfer did no good, nothing changed. The command ultimately continued to disqualify my applicants so I would not earn my gold badge (even though I had the points) when my tour ended.

Even after I left recruiting I was blackballed and as a result lost my career in 1999. In 2000 I enrolled in school to put the pieces of my life together and build a stable life for myself. In hindsight, I now realize how naïve that was. Since then, I can’t recall a time when I was totally at peace during that tour or since then. I was even going to the DOD websites to see if the bastard was killed in Iraq. Back then, I felt like a failure and I am still haunted by the memories. I still like a handicapped woman. It takes a lot for me to trust males.

Over the years, because of the lack of resources back then, pre 9/11, I had been laid off from jobs because I did not know how to manage my disability to function. With help from my family, I found resources for help. Still, in the veterans’ community MST survivors are often not recognized. There seems to be some stereotype or prototype of disabled veterans. When I got rides in the DAV van to my VA appointments, the other male veterans looked critically at me as if I didn’t pass muster or they hit on me. When it dawned on me that going to the VA in and of itself, was a trigger of my disability, I talked to my doctor to find safe places for me to go when I came for appointments. I continue to be optimistic by keeping my faith in God because he is my strength and my help.

My Duty to Speak

Army War veteran/MST veteran adjusting to going back to school.

Anonymous, United States Army

I am a 28 years old Army war veteran. I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted from being raped while serving. I am a student attending a small yet prestigious liberal art college. There have been talk on here about military sexual assault survivors returning to college and I have added my two cents but feel that there is so much more to say.

I went back to classes today after a long weekend. I was able to complete most of my work and academic wise I am doing fine. Emotionally I am a mess when sitting in my classes. I sit in the back seat always, partly due to my PTSD and safety and partly because I feel that nobody should have to see me. I sit quietly with tears rolling down my eyes. For no reason other than I feel like an outside. I feel like I am ostracized. I simply do not have anything to say to the 19 years olds in my class who are living without a care in the world.

It is being ostracized that is the worst. It brings such emotion from my time in the Army that I feel like I am back every time I step inside a classroom. I know that my classmates are not doing it on purpose. I  know that I do not make myself the most approachable while wearing my BDU blouse and sitting in the back crying but the hurt is still all the same. I can put on a fake smile and pretend to care about the keg party that is going on that evening but quite frankly I could care less. I don’t want to change who I am to make friends. I want to make friends who understand what I have been through.

Most who attend my college are wealthy, suburban kids straight out of high school. They were just starting high school, some were still in Junior High when I was being raped in a war zone.  They do not have much real life experience. At times I just want to scream that there is more to life than the mall.  I want to scream to them that there is more to life than parties. I want to scream to them that I WAS RAPED. I WAS TOLD THAT I AM A LIAR. I LOST MY CAREER. DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THAT MAKES ME FEEL? Instead I keep quiet and sit in the back alone.

We do not have a veterans organization or support on campus. Veterans Day came and went with more thought on being another free day off than the meaning behind the day. Like last year I requested a ceremony to honor our military on Veterans Day and they felt that it was not appropriate. They instead display books on Veterans in the library as we are some sort of case study and said that they are doing more than enough to observe Veterans day. Last year during a showing of the film Lioness I requested to be part of the panel to  answer questions about the film. I was denied because I did not have enough experience. I did not have the credentials or the degree to speak about women at war. According to my college a PhD who read books on combat has more credentials than a war veteran to speak about war.

My college  wants to put me on a medical leaves of absence while I deal with my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The idea of not being able to go back to college in the spring scares me. The idea of not having anything to do next semester scares me. I was actually looking forward to the spring semester and felt that it’ll be a change from the norm. I signed up for 2 on-line course, an internship, leaving only 2 classes to be taken on campus one is the internship class which only meets a few times a semester so pretty much just one three credit class which I think was manageable. The Dean of Students contacted my Professors and a couple wrote back saying that I make them feel uncomfortable, that I make them feel unsafe. I sit in the back of the classroom, alone and do my work. I am sorry that I make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I am sorry if being a quiet, depressed veteran scares you. I fought to protect your freedom and I’ll never hurt you.

I feel the same emotions that I felt when I received my discharged papers. I am no longer wanted. I am broken. Something is wrong with me. As I watch my classmates without a worry in the world caring more about the keg party than the final papers I feel envious. I know that they have a greater chance of graduating college than I do. I know that they have a greater chance of being happy than I do. I know that they have a greater chance of living out their goals than I do. Yes I am envious of them.


My Duty to Speak

Army Officer convicted of sexual harassment and assault . Allowed to keep full retirement pension.

Col. Michael Robertson – a Fort Bliss officer with nearly 40 years of service and commanded the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Afghanistan, will only spend three months in military prison after he was convicted today of sexual harassment and assault; a punishment that most find to be a slap in the face for sexual assault survivors. Upon the end of his prison term Col. Robertson will be able to retire and keep his full taxpayer funded pension.

Continue reading on Army Officer convicted of sexual harassment and assault . – National Women in the Military |

My Duty to Speak

Soldier writes about her rapes.

Jana, United States Army

Well, here it is.. another night I am up crying and shaking, and with every second my eyes are closed tight, all I can see are the filthy pigs on top of me. Maybe talking about it will finally help me release some resentment I have held since my deployment in 2006? Let’s see, first there was my so called battle buddy, SPC  ****, an older married guy who came off as my friend yet got me incredibly drunk and had his way with me a few times. Telling me all kinds of horse shit any 19 year old would believe. Stupid me for believing he would leave his wife for me. Well, next there was my E-7 SFC *** that forced his tongue down my throat and his hand down my pants after shoving me in a corner after hours. Me, 19 years old, and he, married and awaiting the birth of his first child he KEPT. All the girls swooned over him. I made them jealous, secretly.

Our little secret. I never spoke a word of it because he was in really well with the command. He retired last April as a Master Sergeant with full retirement. If only I spoke up. I came home from deployment in Sept. 2007 (guess this is why these things are haunting me again). I got married in Dec 2007 to my friend and long time infatuation from high school. He joined the Navy and we moved to South Carolina. He cheated on me with a 13 year old (he was 20) and instead of me pressing charges for adultery – the bastard told me to just take everything I wanted. He ended up getting discharged 2 years later honorably due to medical conditions. He’s been married and now has a kid, living happily ever after. I’m. still. messed. up. I never gave myself a relief period from the war to transitioning back into the civilian life. So, now with a divorce pending, what does a girl do? She drinks heavily. She parties every weekend. She shows up to work with a hangover. She has sex with random dudes just to hear she’s wanted, just never needed. I was never needed ever again. I thought feeling wanted was enough, even if it fizzled out after a few days, weeks.

I’ll never forget everyone’s favorite First Sergeant, 1SG ****, who took me out for shots the day I made my E-5 in 2009. We took a shot for every rank I’ve held in the Army, then talked for hours about everything. After insisting he was not attracted to me “like that”, tell me how I end up in his hotel room half naked with him about to put it in? I bolted. I drove on base drunk as hell and cried myself to sleep. The Unit Victim Advocate and CDR counseled the 1SG with me in the room, and he was put on “probation” for six months. I left the unit on voluntary terms, and later found out he was promoted to Sergeant Major. So… I speak up… and he gets promoted?

My most haunting experience was when I was at a local bar in Beaufort, SC with some Navy friends of mine. We were celebrating a friend’s birthday, and I got really drunk and didn’t realize my friends left me there alone. I started being a social butterfly and ended up going home with random Marines. I remember walking up to the house and what the hallways looked like. I remember telling him I would sleep on the couch, I just wanted to sleep. I remember him taking off my jeans and my statement “Ahh no, I didn’t shave my legs!” then I woke up the next morning, completely nude and look over and he’s laughing at me. I’m like.. “Uh, did we have sex?” He laughs again and was like “Duh”. He takes a shower and I’m left smelling like a used condom. I saw it on the floor and was so hung over and in shock I didn’t think to keep it for evidence. At first I didn’t think it should bother me, I’ve hooked up with dudes before… but this just made me feel horrible.

I did a rape kit and police report..5 days later. I was still unsure about what I should have done. The guy lied on his police statement, so I never went further with charges. He got off clean. Just like all the other assholes. I ended up contracting chlamydia from this asshole. Talk about feeling like a dirty slut. To this day, I am still haunted by these memories. It has ruined every relationship I’ve had since I returned from Iraq. I do not trust males in my units. I feel like I’m a joke to the military – like I can be pushed around because I’m so easy to walk all over.

I’ve been in 6 years and honestly I’m over it. I want out. I harbor so much pain and animosity and feel like no one is listening to my silent screams. I’ve been suicidal since these events. I cut up my hips really bad.. so I wouldn’t be attractive to anyone. I didn’t want to be hurt by any more filthy pigs. I don’t want to be the joke anymore. After my last suicidal episode last month (overdosing) I was put on Celexa with the VA. I’m hoping to FINALLY start seeing someone for MST counseling. At this point, I don’t know what they could do except NUMB the hurt. The memories will always be there.

My Duty to Speak

MST Veteran feels left out

Mary V. United States Army

In 2007 I was raped 6 months into my services with the Army. I reported the rape and my rapist were never prosecuted. Instead, I was viewed as being mentally unstable and as a result lost my career in 2008. In 2009 I enrolled in school to take advantage of the GI Bill and had a difficult time.

I attend a large state school. We have tens of thousands of students and we have a very active veterans organization. The first group on campus that I joined was the Veterans organization. I was treated with a cold shoulder yet still wanting to be accepted I will continue attending their meetings and events.

On Veterans’ Day we had a dinner event on campus. We were given stickers to wear for which conflict we were apart of. If you were never deployed you do not get a sticker. Each table was dedicated to each conflict. If you served in Iraq or Afghanistan you get the two best tables in the house up front. If you served in Vietnam you get the table right behind them. If you were never deployed you get to sit in the back behind the pole behind the professors, staff and others who may not be veterans.

I served a total of 11 months. When the Student Director of the Veterans’ Organization asked me how long I served he said “well you not really a veteran”. An assistant director said that I was “lucky to never have deployed” I wanted to tell them that I wanted to serve longer, that I enlisted with the desire to make it a career then I was raped and forced out but I could not tell them that. I rather have been deployed because I would be viewed as a hero and not a traitor for reporting rape.

It is hurtful when male student veterans won’t acknowledge what us women veterans may have gone through. Through my classes I met other women veteran who are not part of the veterans organization for reasons that they also feel left out.

During sexual assault awareness month I spoke to the veterans’ organization to have an event for military sexual trauma. They denied it and said that it was not “relevant to their mission” so I went to the counseling center and women center who was organizing various events on campus for sexual assault awareness month and asked if I can plan an event for military sexual trauma and they responded by saying that they “can not single out one group of people” and my request to do something MST-related was once again denied.

In the veterans community MST survivors are often shun out and not welcomed. In the feminist community veterans are often shun out and not welcomed. Even among women veterans community MST veterans are often shun out and not welcomed. I posted on a women veterans’ organization facebook wall and they deleted it because according to the admin they did not want women veterans to only be known as having MST but also to be known for all their accomplishments. Surviving MST is an accomplishment in itself. Read the stories on here. We all deserve medals.

Emotionally sitting in class is difficult. I always sit in the corner and that is my safe spot. If I don’t come to class early enough and someone takes my seat I break down in tears because I am overwhelmed in panic.  I cannot have male professors and can only deal with women professors.  It is so difficult. I tried to go to counseling on campus and the counselor did not understand the military structure but did try to convince me that she did because she read an article about military sexual trauma.

It is so difficult being an MST survivor.