My Duty to Speak

Jenny, a United States sailor explains why she is part of the Military Sexual Trauma lawsuit.

My reasons for being part of the lawsuit against the DOD are as follows:
I am a mother of children that may one day -against all of my pleading- consider military service.
The next time that I hear “Zero Tolerance,” I want it t be closer to a reality.
There is right now, this minute, a victim suffering. For them I go forward.
To encourage other people to fight back.
The most important reason for being part of the lawsuit is the one that I have typed into the comments line of the pages of countless fellow survivors. Those reasons are my three beautiful daughters and my wonderful son. Should they decide to serve, they deserve the right to serve in safety. A safety that I was denied. When I took on the ultimate responsibility, that of motherhood, I took it on in the full throws of rape trauma syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder. I demanded my own healing for my children and I demand that she not have to heal from the same crimes against her.
On behalf of the men and women serving in a silent agony, I clutch a towel that I will not throw in. I clutch that towel with steadfast commitment. We are called to fight this fight and we are called to win. I encourage my fellow survivors to join forces in responding to this epidemic and seeking justice and change through the legal process. Please sign up and be heard.
The next reasons are basic. They are justice and patriotism. A good friend from my youth wrote me a letter the other day. He apologized to me on behalf of our country. Our country did not repeatedly rape me. The whole military did not rape me rape. Most of my fellow veterans are remarkable people from diverse and interesting backgrounds. Aside from the rapes, sexual harassment, and violence, I had a great time in the Navy. Rape is permitted by a lack of training, a fear of holding people accountable, and a bully dominated system that is permitted because of the notoriously difficult duty that we entrust to our soldiers, sailors, and airmen.
Military Rape is a gaping blemish on our national character and we can live without it.
A small and overly vocal minority of sexist, homophobic, and occasionally racist individuals band together to hold the rest of the military hostage. If you study bully mentality, most of our soldiers and sailors are uneasy with the bigotry but few know exactly how to respond. Altering that is the change that we seek. How do the great people that we all knew respond correctly to the monsters that tortured us -yes it was torture- and how do we train people to effectively prevent the problem?
In my statement to the law firm that is handling the suit, I addressed the crisis of sexual harassment prevention in the military. Before a female service person is even harassed, they are told that they are at fault. Older male service personnel encourage younger men to seek all male divisions and all male ships. In integrated classes and boot camp divisions, men are told to stay away from women because if they breathe in the direction of a female service member, they will be accused of rape. Let me translate this for everyone, this implies that women are the problem and therefore sexual harassment and sexual assault is a myth.
Training that debunks that myth is why I am part of this lawsuit against the DOD and the Pentagon.
I would like to address the “Zero Tolerance” ideal. When our leaders use terms like “Zero Tolerance” I think that they believe that this is the goal but I do not believe that even Defense Secretary Robert Gates is naive enough to believe that “Zero Tolerance” is currently in place.
This gets to the meat and potatoes of why I am involved in this lawsuit. Those words, “Zero Tolerance” are about as powerful as me pleading to my rapist in 1999 “Please do not do this to me.” The term “Zero Tolerance” from the top is about as strong as my pleading: “Please don’t let this be happening, again.”
When I pleaded for justice the first time, I pleaded for a rapist to stop. When I pleaded for justice the second time, I pleaded for NCIS to remove a rapist from wearing the same uniform that I wear. My rapist still gets a paycheck. Now, I plead for justice with a bold law firm and the Service Woman’s Action Network (SWAN) consulting.
Calling the Pentagon’s policy “Zero Tolerance” does not render “Zero Tolerance” a truth. Suing the federal government is not likely to result in a win. Nevertheless, if this suit permits those that walk in our boots from here forward the ability to serve in safety, our efforts will have been meaningful. For this reason, I signed up to sue the Pentagon.
To elaborate on the current state of “Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault” I have developed this metaphor:
One cannot sit on a couch stuffing cheese burgers and Twinkies down ones throat, guzzle cheap beer instead of water, smoke camel straights and then compete for Olympic excellence. -JSM
With roughly 3200 reported rapes in 2009 and seventy-one percent of the women seeking post military VA assistance reporting rape trauma syndrome, “Zero tolerance” is a long way off. This letter, at this time, fails to begin to address the unique and devastating issues of male MST victims but I will yield to one of our brothers to address that set of issues.
Using the term “Zero Tolerance” does not help me a decade later and it does not help the service person that is being raped right now this minute and he or she IS out there. That person is our primary responsibility. That person suffers in a way that non victim/survivors cannot imagine. With the same commitment mentioned above, I pledge a devout allegiance to the care and advocacy of the person suffering right now.
I am involved in this lawsuit to demand change and accountability in the uniformed services for everyone involved. I am involved in this lawsuit because on December 16th 2002, I took on the ultimate responsibility and became a mother. As a mother, sexual assault and violence is unacceptable and to utter those words falls significantly short of the action that must follow. This lawsuit commences the beginning of that action.
We survivors have stepped upon a vast iceberg with a mere chisel. With each conviction of a sexual predator that uses their uniform, their rank, and their -oft ill earned- breastplate to shield them from justice, we throw another chip of ice into hot water. With each effective measure to prevent sexual harassment and assault, we throw another chip of ice into hot water. When we get our day in court, our lawyer brings a jack hammer onto that iceberg.
In closing, we do not need this iceberg of sexual assault to plague our credibility as a nation. We do not need that iceberg to undermine the honest, hardworking, and hitherto silent members of the armed forces that would not tolerate sexual abuse if their careers would not suffer for having taken such a stand. We DO, however, need that jack hammer. I am involved in this lawsuit to help get that jack hammer up the slope of the iceberg.
With honor, courage, and commitment,
Jenny Shartel McClendon STG2 USN (discharged for being a rape victim) 

My Duty to Speak

Rape in the Navy

Anonymous, United States Navy

I am a Navy Veteran. I was raped in 1994 at the age of 20 by my roommates boyfriend. She gave him the key to our room and he came in while I was sleeping and raped me. I pressed charges even though I received numerous threats on my life for prosecuting the the man that raped me. He received 8 years and a dishonorable discharge. I have struggled to maintain somewhat of a normal life. I attempted suicide and ended up in a coma. I have also had 2 nervous breakdowns. It breaks my heart to see so many women go through what I went through so many years ago. I to this day have nightmares about my attack. I pray so much because I have isses with trusting anyone considering the military didnt protect me from someone that should never been in the service because he was a rapist. I think everyone that enlists should be given a phych eval and maybe alot of these rape issues can be avoided. I will never forget what happened to me and my heart goes out to all that has suffered the trauma that I had to go through as well as struggled to want to live.

My Duty to Speak

My Military Experience Mirrored an Abusive Childhood.

Jen STG2 United States Navy

Gandhi said:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.”

I grew up in a seemingly normal barely middle class home. What I mean by barely middle class was that I was born to two unemployed college students who moved from their provincial southern California hometown to the emerging economic boomtown that would become Silicon Valley.

My mother was an interesting but chronically depressed woman. My father was a seemingly jovial but bipolar alcoholic former Marine .He would say, “Once a Marine always a Marine. My father glorified his days as a Marine serving in Vietnam. He felt that his Purple Heart gave him a license to do pretty much anything that he wanted. Anything that he wanted includes beat and molest his children and psychologically terrorize his wife, my mother. They both put on a good game face and everything looked great.

In John Bradshaw’s terms, I was the “Acting out child.” The acting out child is relevant to the military rape that will come several years later. I knew that things in the house were wrong and I called attention to that fact. By the time that I was twelve years old, I was popping all sorts of over the counter allergy and sleeping pills to stay disengaged. I found solace in poetry and drama. I even watched pathetic soap operas as an escape.

By the time that I was in high school, we had moved to Duchess County New York because the IBM there looked as if it were going to be a new Silicon Valley. My father went to IBM East Fishkill ahead of us and I was hoping at this time that my mother would file for divorce and refuse to join him in New York. She didn’t. We moved to New York in May of 1983. I was about to turn thirteen.

Things looked normal for a while. My parents rented a house with five bedrooms in Rural Pleasant Valley New York. Things seemed like they were going to be great. I thought things had changed.

My parents eventually bought a raised ranch in the town of Pleasant Valley. My father’s drinking reemerged and the abuse came back. He had always physically and sexually abused my sister and me. One night he came to basement where we had bunk beds. He began to assault me, “As punishment.”

I was on the bottom. He had me pinned with one foot free. I called out to my sister. She whined, “Go to bed Dad.” She must have forgotten to say please. I pleaded for her help while she lay on the top bunk wishing that this was not happening. Perhaps she was in shock. She could wish all she wanted. I did not have that luxury.

The bunk beds were not very stable. I kicked the top bunk over and over until the top rack dropped on my father and me. My sister pulled him off of me and went and got my mother who came downstairs and took my father to bed. Betrayal began in the home.

Eventually, I told my father that I was going to turn him in for that night. He looked at me with his mean Marine stare and said, “I’ll beat the charges.” I did not turn him in for at least a year.

About a year later, I took off with a friend. We planned to report the crime. When the police picked us up I reported the assault. The police sent me home to my abuser and we were ordered by social services to attend eight visits of family counseling. This solved nothing!

I grew up and became a small time stand-up comic. Being wasted was a big part of my stick. Many funny people are damaged. Humor saved me. I was terrified to go out on the road as a stand-up. I knew the likelihood revisiting dangerous places. I put my career on hold and took a job at IBM in Burlington, Vermont, where my father was a legend.
I left that job to join the Navy in my mid twenties. I thought that I could serve my country, sober up, toughen up, and get back on the road as a stand-up when I got out. I really felt at home in the Navy.

I became the walking recruiting advertisement. I went to school on the side and I volunteered everywhere. I was grateful to be in the Navy. I loved being alive.
Things began to crash at FleetASWSan Diego. There were three men in C-School who were white power advocates. I have mixed faith and I feel closer to the Tanakh than the New Testament. I wore a Star of David back then. At a PT muster, one of these bullies saw the Star of David and yelled “Hey you dirty Jew” at me in front of sixty people who remained silent. Silent. Like my sister on top of that bunk back home. The difference, they were not barely thirteen years old and should be held to a higher standard.

I turned the haters in. The higher ranking among them – already on a suspended bust – was relieved of his supervisory role.

Thus began my decline. The recently demoted told most of the men on ASW that whoever went to sea with me should ruin me. In 1998, I reported to a DDG in Norfolk, VA.

Someone that I knew at Fleet ASW training Center in San Diego reported month ahead of me. He told the division that I was a feminist ball buster. By the time that I got to the ship, they already had it in for me.

I arrived with a good attitude and did my work. I won a few people over with humor. I was oblivious to me preemptive reputation. I found a “Dog log” where my “Other” names were listed. “Bitch, Dyke, Whore!” I confronted members of my division. I would take bitch and even dyke (I would never use a discriminatory term like that but as far as being called such a thing, who cares) but not whore.

The ship went to the Caribbean for a long cruise. We sailed through three hurricanes off the Florida coast. I was put on a nightly mid watch for six weeks with a shipmate (rapist) who just returned from a night in jail for beating his wife. It was known that I despised him.
Several times I was sexually assaulted by a second class petty officer (Rapist) during this watch. In high seas he would get seasick. Once, he got sick on me while he was trying to assault me.

The ship pulled into Puerto Rico. I bought a bunch of sleeping pills, Nyquil, and allergy medicine that I used to detach as a teenager. I drank Nyquil with sleeping pills. I could not sleep without them.

I took a bunch of Sominex, Nyquil, and Benadryl, and tried to drown myself in Puerto Rico. The Caribbean stays shallow for miles. The next day I called my aunt. She urged me to turn the rapist in. I knew this would come back on me.

I eventually reported it anyway. I went to the HMC, Chief Hospital Corpsman. I was taking a big risk because this HMC had been in trouble for leaking privacy act information about STD’s on the ship. I decided to throw my career away and report the crime.

Shockingly, the Chief’s mess circled their wagons and covered this up. My Senior Chief took me out on the fantail of the ship for a “Smoke break.” He told me that they knew that I was a feminist and that if I said anything more about this, they would have proof that I was just trying to get “The rapist” into trouble.

I was baited and trapped into an argument by my work center supervisor. He ranted that there was nothing wrong with “The Rapist,” “He just grew up in a touchy feely family.” Now some bitch that did not belong in the Navy made a division of people change.
Enter the famous “Unit cohesion” argument! I blew up and went to our LPO and told him in graphic detail what “The rapist” did to me. I blew the unit cohesion argument out of the water.

Whether or not “The rapist” grew up in a touchy feely family or not, I did. I grew up with a touchy feely father and it WAS molestation and it IS molestation now. LPO said, “It’s not molestation. It’s rape. I have three daughters. Report it!”

NCIS Investigated. “The rapist” passed a polygraph. The case was dropped. “Criminal” investigation!

America needs longitudinal policy discussions about preventing this epidemic, preparing women, treating the problem.

After I reported a rape I was put in the hands of two failure psychologists, sent to anger management, and sent to smoking cessation classes. Really? Anger management! Really?

Today I have emerged as a formidable woman. I still cannot sleep. I still jump if people come too close to me. This still hurts.


When they come to accuse me of being a feminist, BRING IT! When survivors need strength, lend them hope. BRING IT!

If the rapists and rape apologist’s think they have won and that we cannot resist and rebuild ourselves, BRING IT!

If they think that women united cannot solve this problem, BRING IT!

Then we win!

My Duty to Speak

Sailor reports rape in 2009

Jennifer, United States Navy

I am Jennifer. I enlisted in the United States Navy in 2006. In 2009 I was raped by a Lieutenant on my ship. The rape was immediately reported and a rape kit examination was performed. My victim advocate gave me a lecture on drinking.She told me that I should never leave my drink alone even if I was to use the head and to know how much alcohol that I can handle. She said that sometimes when we drink we do things that we later regret. She said that even herself that sometimes she woke up from a night of drinking and regrets doing certain things. My victim advocate said that we have to accept our mistakes and not try to find a scapegoat cause it may ruin careers and lives. I was confused. Why was she talking to me about drinking?  I WAS NOT DRINKING WHEN I WAS RAPED.  I wanted to talk to her about how I was feeling. I was very sad, scared and angry. But she was only interested in talking to me about drinking.

The special agent that investigated the rape asked me if I was ever was raped prior to this rape allegation. I made the mistake of telling him that I was molested as a child. The special agent asked me how was I so sure that I was indeed raped by the Lieutenant and not having a flashback from being molested as a child .

The rumor on the ship was that I am a slut. During port call many of the men were interested in getting prositutes. A Chief screamed out “I am getting myself a hooker” The chief then came up next to me, put his hands on my shoulder and said “okay bitch, let us go get ourselves a room” i slapped him and left. I ended up getting NJP for hitting a superior.

I was being med boarded out for adjustment disorder because they said that after 03 years that they finally realized that I was having problems adjusting to the navy lifestyle. In 2010 I lost my career for adjustment disorder. I went to the VA that said that I do not have adjustment disorder and that I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and rated me at 100% for PTSD. Now I am back in college just trying to put it all behind me but it still angers me that everyone who did this to me can still be in.