My Duty to Speak

Wall of Shame: Captain Pete Decola, United States Coast Guard

Update 23FEB13

We want to thank everyone that took their time to contact us about this case.

We were contacted by many on Active Duty Coast Guardsmen or women that witnessed Captain Decola verbally and emotionally abuse rape survivors. Even though what Decola did was clearly barbaric the amount of support and love from Active Duty Coast Guardsmen and women that contacted us was monumental. We thank everyone that took the time to contact us or post a comment on this blog. We know how difficult that it is to come forward while still on Active Duty and we admire your bravery.

Together we can help eliminate abuse by Pete Decola-and others like him who are abusing our shipmates who already suffered through the unthinkable. Join me to so my shipmates won’t have to suffer the way that I did under Pete Decola’s command.

Thank you. Semper Paratus


While most people serving in the U.S Armed Forces are doing so honorably without assaulting anyone–or covering up and/or blaming a survivor that comes forward there are the handful of individuals that hurt our service members and often do so to multiple victims. Our Wall of Shame highlights those that spent most of their careers abusing our US Service members and veterans.

Today we are adding Captain Pete Decola to the Wall of Shame.

Pete Decola is a United States Coast Guard Captain. He is currently serving at Coast Guard Boston.

-In 2006 a woman was beaten, raped and severely retaliated against. As retaliation for reporting the rape she was sexually assaulted by friends of the rapist. According to a Coast Guardsman that witnessed -and put an end to the sexual assault before it escalated- he tried to get the woman helped, including speaking to Mr. Pete Decola but Decola REFUSED to help the woman. The witness to the sexual assault posted his story here.

-In 2007, Pete DeCola was instrumental in kicking out a rape survivor from the Coast Guard for reasons of she reported a rape. According to emails and documentations obtained by My Duty To Speak, Pete Decola refused to help a shipmate that was raped.

-A civilian anti-rape advocate/peer rape counselor was verbally assaulted by Pete Decola. She wrote about her ordeal for CNN. Read it here.

-Many Active Duty Coast Guardsmen came forward to say that they have witnessed Peter Decola verbally abuse women in the Coast Guard that reported rape. Many witnesses report that Pete DeCola has used words such as “crazy”, “liar” and “nut job” to describe our US Coast Guardsmen and disabled veterans that been raped or sexually assaulted.

The most notorious of all was last summer when Captain Pete Decola announced to a room full of Coast Guardsmen and women that women that report rape are “crazy” and “liars” he then went on to talk about CONFIDENTIAL information about rape cases that he was aware of. In the audience was two known rape survivors. Both rape survivors contacted us upset, triggered and disgusted by Captain Pete DeCola’s behavior.

As a result of Pete Decola’s rant against rape survivors one of the survivor left the Coast Guard as soon as her contract was up.

How many other rape survivors were in the room? Even though one might never know how many rape survivors have been hurt by Pete Decola the statistics of rape in the military are well know.

The United States Congress estimates that as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men would experience sexual violence while serving in the United States Coast Guard. Divide that by the number of people that heard his “women that report rape are crazy” rants and you would get an estimate of how many suffered because of Captain Decola’s pro-rape attitude.

The US Congress also estimates that less than 10% of all rapes are ever reported due to harsh retaliation against the victim (such as losing their careers, being called “crazy” and “liars”, etc…) The United States Congress also estimates that less than 90% of all reported rapes end up in trial–with most accused rapist leave the Coast Guard with an HONORABLE discharge.

The abuse against the men and women in the Coast Guard needs to stop. Being raped in traumatizing enough. We do not need Captain Pete Decola to inflict secondary trauma to the brave men and women that volunteered to serve their country.

We are hoping that Captain Pete Decola stops abusing men and women in the Coast Guard that report rape. Our Coast Guardsmen and women deserve better.

If you have been abused by Captain Pete Decola or have witnessed Pete Decola or anyone else blame, not believe or abuse a Coast Guard rape survivor please contact us at

-written by M.

My Duty to Speak

Senior Chief ordered to cease talking to a shipmate that reported rape.

I am a Senior Chief with the US Coast Guard. I am writing this because I need help. I mentored hundreds of people throughout my career. A SN that I mentored early on in his career made it to Chief and I helped him through every step of the way. Throughout all of these years I kept in contact with almost everyone that I ever served with.  A woman that reported a rape was no exception.

After her command discovered e-mails between the rape victim and me I was forced to cease all communications with her. All the emails were professional and sent through Coast Guard email. Emails to her were similar to what I have sent to my other mentees.  I advised her about staying focus and shared my experience and insight with her. Often I send out the same motivational email to all who consider me a mentor. She not once mentioned her rape or anything that might hinder the investigation.

I read every single Coast Guard story on here and it saddens me.  The posting about a woman that was invited to the base and later was turned away, humiliated and harassed because she was a rape victim angers me.  In another posting a woman wrote that her two brothers in the Coast Guard felt that rape victims are skanky that do not deserve even an investigation? There are the many victims that posted that they did not receive an investigation even if they wanted to go with an unrestricted reporting which is clearly against violation but who is holding anybody accountable?

The Coast Guard was very good to my family and me.  I am always the first to defend every negative press about the Coast Guard from our response to the oil spill to the embarrassment of Deepwater. At this point I am lost. I am angry with the Coast Guard for putting me in a situation to choose between an organization that I love and a shipmate that was raped.   I no longer want to work for an organization that tells me that I cannot speak to someone because they have been raped but I also know that my family and livelihood depends on this job.


My Duty to Speak

First Class Petty Officer (E-6) raped while serving in the United States Coast Guard.

The first time I was assaulted in the CG was by my Company Commander in boot camp. Then there was a rape while on liberty just before we graduated. Oh, but I had been drinking: ergo my “fault”…. it took me YEARS – my entire career – to understand that I was incapable of consenting.

I was raped in “A” school… I became promiscuous because I was told “You joined the Coast Guard. What did you expect? You’re just morale gear!”. I was raped at my first duty station (I was a Reservist at the time) and told “No one will believe you. You’re just a Reservist”. So the programming I was getting was: You don’t matter. You are never going to measure up. If you want to stay in the CG, you need to just suck it up and deal with it. Promiscuity was a coping mechanism because in my battered psyche it was the ONLY way I could find someone who “had my back”.

Gods… what a dreadful, twisted mentality at such a young age! Somehow my brain made it into that I “mattered” and had “control”… I DID matter, but was far from having any control. You’d think I would have gotten out… but, instead, I dropped out of college after getting raped at my Reserve Unit and went on Active Duty. When I would struggle, I was sent for counseling and with TWO different counselors at two different points in my career I was told flat out “If you want to stay in the Coast Guard, you have to be found Fit For Full Duty, so it’s your choice”. My choice… Hide the fact that I have severe damage done TO me in order to stay in the service that I DEARLY love, or face discharge for “Adjustment Disorder” or “Personality Disorder” or some other BS diagnosis. Some choice!

Obviously I chose the former. Failed relationships. Failed marriages. Never quite “measuring up” because I was terrified more of the bullying than assaults. I developed a potty mouth and was first to jump to a sexual innuendo because if I said it, “they” wouldn’t say it ABOUT me. Another coping mechanism. Easy to do when I was the only woman. I only had to stand up for myself, and that was impossible. Forward to 2004. I was struggling at my unit mainly because of misogynistic Neanderthals (I was, and am, a Boatswain’s Mate. Not the best rate in which to be if you want to avoid bullying morons) and I already crumbling near the breaking point.

I didn’t understand what was happening in my brain – the hidden things – the fears – everything there was shut down hard. All I knew was that I thought daily of suicide. Had planned to just step off the fantail during some deployment. Everything hurt that badly. I lost the ability to even qualify for watch stations – the big ones – Underway OOD on two different ships… just could NOT make it to the boards… terrified. Then I was raped while on leave. This time it was by a civilian. I came back into the area and reported it to my Command via my FEMALE XO (the CO was plain useless). I was told “Because you were not raped on Coast Guard property or by a Coast Guardsman the Coast Guard is not obligated to help you”.

My mind instantly snapped to and the thought came “If I had broken my arm on liberty, would the Coast Guard have set it?” Of course the answer is “yes”. So, how is this damage any different? The HS2 on board at the time told me “40 year old women aren’t raped” and something about how I should be “thankful”. What a POS he is! The XO tried to tell me about “Needs of the Guard”. Her punk ass had been in all of, what, 6-7 years INCLUDING the Academy? I’d done THREE geo-bachelor tours in that amount of time. I had over 20, but not all Active Duty though. I was still on leave and when I got back I had TAD orders to the Group nearby.

The XO there directed me to go to the Local Women’s Resource Center. I also got counseling locally and finally found an AWESOME therapist. Here it is 2012 and I’m STILL seeing him! Anyhoo… I started working through repressed memories. Meanwhile I had to return to my ship, where my Command was trying to get an Administrative Separation through.

Because of my longevity I was able to file a rebuttal. I had been removed from the ship and sent to work in our “office” ashore. The office was just me in a building. We got a new XO and he was no better than the former . I put in to become a Victim Support Specialist for our District and the request was denied because our unit “didn’t need one”. I was starting to get a little “Towanda” to me by now and the Command was forced to let me become one, even though they still wanted me out. I was given access to my Medical Record because it was in disarray (about 3″ thick and not in order). While I was putting it in chronological order I started noticing things that matched up to the memories I’d been recording through therapy. There was a distinct pattern. There was “proof” of the times when I was being assaulted with things like increased trips to medical for things that they were never able to diagnose that were summarily just ignored. Especially during my tour in Alaska, where I had been FORCED to file a Sexual Harassment charge (DACOWITZ had just been started and I was told my orders would be held up if I didn’t comply) but after 2 months of hell CGI told me they couldn’t get any corroboration. No shit? Really? Where the person was either a perpetrator or a witness? What a surprise!!!

In 2006 we had a Change of Command and the XO figured the new CO would believe everything the old Command said of me. I had been busy, though. When the XO gave me the letter so they could Admin Sep me (by this time they were calling it “unsuitability due to ADHD”) I had my response in hand. I created a document 2″ thick, bound, color coded, indexed and including what I called a “Trauma Timeline” giving dates, incidents, NAMES and corresponding entries in my medical record for things like recurring UTIs, and so on, as well as the Coast Guard’s own policies, all available information I could find regarding Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD, plus the information regarding Fibromyalgia (both of the latter have many of the same cognitive issues as ADHD). The XO told me that I could only submit ONE page and I stood up to him. “No Sir, THIS is my response!”. He had no choice but to hand it to the brand new CO.

The CO came directly to see me. He told me that he and his wife had been stationed at the same unit as I in Alaska, but arrived shortly after my departure. His wife worked for Work-Life and they heard about an incident that had been investigated. It turned out that was me. So when he received my “response” and read about that chapter in my career he KNEW I was telling the truth and HE hand carried it to District, directly to the Admiral THAT DAY. My request? My request was to be allowed to remain on Active Duty for the remaining 6 MONTHS I needed to get my Active Duty 20 and be allowed to retire.

Thanks to him, I got it. I also got an interview with CGIS that lasted 5 hours (no breaks… I just rambled on). I never asked for anyone to be prosecuted. I never asked for anything other than for this crap to CHANGE (unfortunately it hasn’t) and be allowed to retire. The CGIS Agents actually told me they were sorry all this had happened to me and thanked me for my service. Sounds great in the end. Yes, I got my PTSD diagnosis and was able to get Concurrent Receipt on my Retirement and VA Disability. I’m 100% P&T and could get all my pay from the VA so it was tax free, but I’ll be DAMNED if the CG isn’t going to pay me my retirement. But it’s not better.

I still feel like I missed out on so much of the CG. I haven’t really been able to stay in contact with former shipmates. I have two really close ones, both females, both are now Chiefs and I could not be prouder! So many of my “Sea Babies” went on to be Chiefs and above. I did make a difference. It was during my last year while part of the local Domestic and Sexual Assault Response Team that I learned something that made the most difference in my healing. Here I was trying to learn to help others and paid my way to a course given to professionals. When I learned that it’s not just “Fight” or “Flight” as we’ve heard all our lives… there’s a third. There’s “Freeze”. People who naturally fight can learn to flee and those who naturally flee can learn to fight… those, like me, who lock up – can’t scream – can’t move – may only be able to cry and beg “please don’t!”… we will freeze when threatened personally. I’ve always been able to stand up for others… just not myself. I see now all the times I froze… rapes… assaults… harassment… bullying… to abject terror of failing a board and being ridiculed there toward the last 6 years of my career… all because of something over which I had NO control. It wasn’t my “fault”. It just was. I still can freeze… but now I avoid situations that are “too much” for me, or have someone with me that can help get me “out”. Someone who understands my need to stand with a wall to my back, or who understands when I stop moving and my eyes are like saucers that they need to take me by the hand and MOVE me someplace “safe”. I shop on… heaven for someone who just can’t deal with crowds!

Here it is now 2012. I’ve been retired almost 6 years. I WANT to work with MST Vets. I tend to bounce around in my own little chaotic universe, but when it comes to talking about MST I am brave. I want to help. I am not the norm because I managed to last a full career… but at what expense? If it hadn’t been for ONE person that read my “story” and backed me… I’d be, well… most likely dead. I would have put up with all of that bullshit for nothing. The service I STILL so dearly love would have discarded me as easily as they do those who report the first rape…

Times have changed… or have they? The DoD got cracked down upon, but the Coast Guard so deftly manages to say “Oh, sorry, we’re not DoD! That doesn’t apply to us!”. Bullshit. I dare one of these assholes to tell me “Why are you bashing the CG?!?!” I’ve NEVER bashed the Coast Guard… just individual assholes that screw it up for those who deserve BETTER. I joined in ’81. Between then and 2007 it SHOULD have been better. By now it SHOULD be damn near perfect! But it’s not. It’s still the “Corporate Mentality”. How do we fix it? By speaking out! By putting faces to the acts. It happened to ME. “ME” being all of us. We are a sister AND brotherhood of those who are walking wounded from an invisible war that is ongoing.

This is unacceptable. We may feel our voices alone are weak, but together we CAN and DO make a difference. Perhaps we can write letters to the First Lady and encourage her NOT to let her daughters join the Military, and point out how our beloved Coast Guard manages to continue to put everything else above Victim Support. We support the Coast Guard by making it BETTER than it is. Love to you my sisters and brothers

~ BM1 Elsa Nethercot (USCG, Retired)

My Duty to Speak

Active Duty Coast Guardsman face retaliation for seeking treatment for rape.

Active Duty, United States Coast Guard

I was raped and chose unrestricted reporting. My Chief and others told me that they would stand by me and that my assailant is going to go to prison. They saw my injuries and knew of “the history” of my assailant that they promised that they would testify against him and want to see him sent to the brig.  I was interviewed by CGI, and it came back that there might have been other victims.

I was sent inpatient for almost one month to help with me with the rape.

After the program, I was sent to a different unit than my assailant.  I called my old Chief, and those at my old unit that promised to stick by me and they told me that they were advised to no longer speak to me. I left a message for my victim advocate a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting to hear back from her.

The investigation came back as not enough evidence to move forward. Everyone found out and called me a liar for crying rape. I was told that because I was the one in the loony bin and not my rapist that something was obviously wrong with me.

My biggest mistake has been to agree to go inpatient. Before that, I had witnesses that were willing to testify, CGIS that believed me, a command that was trying to help me. Because of my inpatient treatment, I now have a scarlet letter on my forehead that reads the warning. The crazy woman who spent almost a month in the treatment program.

At the program, I was told about MRCC by a few patients and MRCC were able to set me up counseling for as soon as I got out.  The doctor that the Coast Guard requires me to see told me that my diagnosis for PTSD is a mistake and is trying to determine what is wrong with me. The doctor feels that because my parents divorced when I was a child that I am having problems dealing with that and it might make me ineligible for military service. The doctor also thinks I might be having problems adjusting to the Coast Guard. The doctor that I am seeing that been referred to me by MRCC told me that I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of Military Sexual Trauma.

I want to stay in the Coast Guard but reading all the stories on here and knowing that I have problems because my parents are divorce leaves me very scared and depressed.

My Duty to Speak

Coast Guard Investigative Service blames victim for her rape.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

As an E3 in Alameda (5 years ago), I was assaulted at a party. I was drinking, and the person who assaulted me managed to have me leave the party with him- several friends saw me leave and did nothing to stop me- and I ended up in his apartment. I remember vaguely being on this guy’s floor with my pants off. I graduated from a well known college before joining, so its not like I had never had a drink with the opposite sex before. I’ve fallen asleep on fraternity house couches and was never treated with anything but respect, because I am a sister not a piece of meat. The next day I reported it to my supervisor (completely unaware of the restricted and unrestricted reporting guidelines) and he launched a CGIS investigation. During the investigation I was told that it was my fault because I was drinking, and that I welcomed it because I had previously told someone that I thought the guy was cute. This incident cost me my relationship, friendships, and eventually my credibility. I’m still in, but I can’t shake the anger and disgust at this organization for the way rape survivors are treated. CGIS is a joke, the reporting requirements are a joke. The only person who helped me was the Victim Advocate. What’s amazing is I had no follow up medical care, no counseling, nothing. I only hope I can save other females from experiencing this as well.

My Duty to Speak

Coast Guard Captain calls rape survivor “liar” and “nut case”.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

I am in desperate need for some help. I reported my rape and it went nowhere. I was told that there were not enough creditable evidence to bring this case to trial. They have separated the two of us and I am safe from him. My problem is since my allegations came back as not having enough creditable evidence to bring the case to trial I am being viewed as a liar. I am called a nut case and a liar every single day often by CWO and  a Captain.

Yes, I made some mistakes that I am beating myself up for such as not going immediately to the hospital and waiting some time before reporting it. I was scared. According to the CWO and the Captain the reason why I took so long to report it was because I was making a plan to lie. I did NOT lie. I can’t stress that enough. After the rape my rapist told me that if I told anyone that he’ll kill me. It was not until I felt suicidal and that I no longer could keep it in that I finally told somebody. I did not expect the allegation to go anywhere when I did report it but I needed help and needed to get away from him. It went unrestricted because I told some friends that are also in the Coast Guard wanting their advice on what I should do and support to help me report it. Since I told people it automatically because unrestricted and they had to investigate it.

I requested some time off from my Chief so that I can attend a counseling session in town. He told me that he doesn’t know why I still go to counseling since it was determined that it was a false allegation. He forbid me time off to attend counseling.

I am an E-3. How can I stop the bullying from those much higher ranking than me? They are slandering my name, tearing me apart and everyone believes them over me because of their rank and position with the Coast Guard.

This is much worst than even the rape. Can someone offer me some advice?

My Duty to Speak

Coast Guard Petty Officer Federico Sanchez re-victimized rape survivor

HS2 Federico Sanchez was on officer of the day duty when he thought it would be funny to further victimize a rape survivor. According to the rape survivor she was invited on base for a meeting, followed all necessary steps including being on an approved guest list and provided a valid government ID. After realizing that the woman invited on base was a rape survivors that his friends/shipmates helped cover up her rape he did all in his power to further victimize her.
Rape survivors in the Coast Guard often don’t just have one victim-blaming act committed against them. It is often dozens of small act of abuse that do have life long psychological consequences for the rape survivor. It also builds an environment of intimidation that might defer others from reporting a rape.

This blame-the-victim culture at Coast Guard Base Boston needs to stop before more members of the U.S Coast Guard are punished for reporting a rape. All these small acts of making the victim be punished for reporting a rape do add up to a culture of intimidation.

Calls to HS2 Federico Sanchez were never returned. Electronic communications from Active Duty coasties that witness to the event confirm that forbidding the rape survivor to attend a meeting that she was invited to was because she is a rape survivor.

Our Coast Guardsmen and women deserve better. Time to fix the Coast Guard.


written by M.O