My Duty to Speak

Child of an airman raped by active duty member.

Aimee, United States Air Force

I am not sure if I am included in this exact space, as I am not active or former active duty military. But I have been raped by active duty members twice.

The first time, I was eight years old. My dad was in the Air Force and we were stationed overseas. It was a friend (or at least co-worker) of my dad who was babysitting me and my younger brother. He raped me in the shower, a blur of pain and blinding water. I mostly remember laying there while the water turned cold, staring at my reflection in the faucet. This is a case that probably could have been successfully prosecuted because of my age, but I was too lacking in the ability to cope or acknowledge what had happened to me. I didn’t understand, and my parents never noticed anything being wrong with me. I later learned what it was that happened to me, and it only made me more afraid of anyone finding out.

The second time I was 15, living in Colorado after my dad left the military. I was visiting a friend in Colorado Springs and while at a mall we met some men in the Army. I was uncomfortable with them flirting with us, but she was very flirty and I didn’t think it would be a big deal since it was just the mall. She saw some friends and walked away in an argument for a short time. While we were separated, one of the army men raped me in his car. He left for Iraq the next morning and I didn’t know anything about him. I felt like I would be blamed, and again couldn’t deal with the idea of people examining me or questioning me. I hadn’t dealt with the first rape yet, and this one made it much worse. I wish I had said something, even if it ended futilely. What if he raped again while in Iraq?

I have a lot of regrets about how I never came forward about this. Now I’m 24, and I am married to someone in the Air Force. We live overseas and I have been extremely hesitant about leaving our house or making friends because of this fear of being attacked by military men. I love my husband, and the military was the best option for him – and us as a family – but sometimes I am completely overwhelmed by social anxiety.

I wrote this for the site, despite hesitation over whether it applies, because the problem the military has with sexual assault extends beyond those in the service. I have never had to deal with the pain of being silenced by superiors and forced to work with the perpetrator, so my story is different. I am another product of the rape culture the military protects. I am recently trying to get involved with being an Advocate on the base I live at. My husband thinks it will be too much for me to handle, but I want to start helping in a direct way. I have met many military women who have been victims, and men and women who advocate for them are my heroes.