Take Action

On February 15, a group of 16 service members and veterans filed a lawsuit against the United States military demanding changes in the way that sexual assault is being dealt with in the ranks.

Kori Cioca reported that the Coast Guard told her that if she pressed forward with reporting the sex as a rape, she would be court-martialed for lying. She said the man pleaded guilty only to hitting her and his punishment was a minor loss of pay and being forced to stay on the base for 30 days.

“You think of a Coast Guardsman, you think of somebody in the military holding themselves at a certain level,” Cioca said. “When somebody walks up to you and shakes your hand and says, ‘Thank you for your service,’ little do they know they’re shaking the hand of a man who rapes and beats women in the military. ”

Panayiota Bertzikis  says she was raped by a Coast Guard shipmate while out on a hike with him in Burlington, Vt. Bertzikis complained to her commanding officer, but she said authorities did not take substantial steps to investigate the matter. Instead, she said, they forced her to live on the same floor as the man she had accused and tolerated others calling her a “liar” and “whore.”

However the rape is only the beginning of abuse that survivors often face. Panayiota Bertzikis said: “The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it’s the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it…..From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed.”

Please call your Representatives TODAY demanding better protecting for service members who been sexually assaulted or raped:

Sample Script:

We are a group of survivors of Military Sexual Trauma and the families of the fallen victims of Military Sexual Trauma. We have been denied the right to serve without being raped and sexually harassed. The most absurdly nominal attention has been pad to this by military leaders and we are writing to ask for congressional oversight of the military.

Sexual perpetrators usually continue to collect a paycheck and advance while victims are quickly discharged with diagnosis’ of depression, adaptation disorder due to rape, cyclothymia, bipolar II, and personality disorder. This is an injustice that is cultivated by rape culture.

We ask that legislative attention is given to this problem from this time until the problem is resolved.

Furthermore, we ask that the survivors and the families of the fallen are heard by lawmakers on this matter. We hope that the first place that lawmakers stop to learn more about this matter is the website My Duty to Speak, https://mydutytospeak.com/.

My Duty to Speak is a journal of our stories in our words. For many survivors, this is the first time that we have been heard, believed, and supported. We would like to add this 112th Congress to the list of people that hear our stories.

We urge our senators and representatives not to stop with our stories. Please get to know the staff and volunteers at the Military Rape Crisis Center in Cambridge Massachusetts. We began in the Boston barracks room room of our founder Panayiota Bertzikis. After she was raped and illegally imprisoned while a Station Burlington Coast Guard Boatswain Mate investigated the allegations, Panayiota began a blog that brought out other service members in need of support.

Those desperate quests for understanding blossomed into a formidable force of service that supports military sexual trauma survivors in need of crisis counseling and advocacy.

We seek legislative change and public awareness. Please support us and please support funding and policy change on this matter.





11 thoughts on “Take Action

  1. I survived forced sex (non-violent to start, I was overseas in a country under martial law, couldn’t go awol if I tried) and a very perverted attempt at murder-suicide by a superior officer. The events took place in the late 1970’s. I came back changed, began to rebuild my life, but an episode at work was similar enough to bring my PTSD roaring back. I never held a full time job for long after that.
    I tried the VA, they made it worse, much worse. Got kicked out of their own back-to-work program, but no disability. Homeless for years, treated like I’m the criminal, interrogated when I applied for VA disability. Will go on record if you need. Would like to start a log of offenders for possible corroboration of claims. VA will not cross-reference claims.
    Also think civilians should know these predators who are protected by the military and VA are going to go on preying when they retire or separate. They will not by registered. Why do we register civilian sex offenders? BECAUSE WE KNOW THEY GO ON COMMITTING CRIMES.
    It doesn’t stop or go away with time. I am not weak or lazy or stupid.

    1. Cecelia I just wanted to let you know that I am enduring the same thing with the VA now. I got fired from their VRA program because I kept having anxiety attacks. Whats worse, I was getting care in the VA hospital I worked in but still got fired. I have prayed for you and may God keep you

    2. You raise such good points, may I offer my own apology as an American for all that has happened to you. Thank you for your service and thank you for your thoughtful ideas, you are so right about registering the names of the offenders. We owe this protection to our daughters.

    3. My First Shirt made my life a living hell from the first time he saw me. He was married and much older then I was and he didn’t care that I had a family too. He made it very clear not just to me but the whole company that He wanted me and no one else in the company had better every try to talk to me because I was his. He wanted me to be his not just for a day, it wanted to force me to have a relationship with him. This went on for almost 2 years when him acting like a love sick puppy dog, whenever I had to go to the company, and I stayed as far away from there as I could. Then came the messed up reasons anything that would involve just me having to be there or the whole company, until the male soldiers actually said you just need to go on and be will him because he is making all of our life’s a living hell now because he wants you so badly, that he will have us do early mandatory formation or PT, just so he can see you. I worked no were near my company as a Commercial Artist so I really didn’t have to go there unless he made me even started making me pull surprise CQ duty on days that had had a full day of work at my office, then he would call me and ask why had I not reported for duty because my name was on the roster. No it was not and everyone knows that if you have that duty, you are excused from working your regular job during the day! He also started putting me down for that duty for every weekend and Holiday. This is still so very hard for me after all these years, Because he waited until he knew my family was out of town on vacation during the summer and set up a situation where I would have to be in a area where nobody was around during the weekend. He said I needed to report for PT because I had been ill during the run, I had just gotten back from a surgery that he forced me to have or he said that he would have me court martialed and sent to Leavenworth person. It was a hysterectomy, a procedure that I told him that my civilian dr. who was also the head of Wayne State Medical college told that I did not have to have. When I told him that, that is when he threaten me, also saying that if I went to my home of record and allow them to treat me that is when he would do everything within his power to have my ass kicked of the service. He brutally raped me after I reported to the area and there was no there but me. He used my long hair against me at was it had fallen down, I only weighed 115 and he told me I could make this heard or easy on myself and as soon as those words left his mouth, I knew that he was going to hurt me because I fought for my life. he dragged me by my hair, finally getting the best of me when he got me down, straddled me and wrapped his hands around my hair and banged my hand against the ground hard enough to subdue me and he raped me! When it was over he told me that if I ever told that he would make sure he drummed up made up charges against me, just like he did my friend and have me thrown out of the service and that he was a career soldier and no would believe me anyway. He told me from that day forward that anytime he wanted me that I had better come to wherever he told me to be, if I wanted to stay in the service and I was so afraid of him that I did so this Monster, subjected me to being raped by him 3 more times and he talked afterwards as if we were in a relationship, to the point of telling me to wear my hair down the next time and what color underwear to have on. I woke up Screaming early bolting straight up in my bed trying my best to fight off when I was coming out of it someone that wasn’t even there, HIM. I sat there in the middle of my bed and sobbed my eyes out rocking back and forth praying, asking, begging my Father God to give the strength to stop him, not to every let him put his hands on me again!! Ever! The next day he called me to tell me were to meet him and I refused and he was Furious and was telling me all that he was going to do to me. I told him that I was done with his threats. That I was a top soldier and that I had created a diary from the very time he had started sexually harassing me to include having the company Admin sergeant calling my house the day before my promotion board to inform me that I could forgot about making next rank because the First Sergeant was going to be siting on the board and he was going to make damn sure that I didn’t make it and he was There and guess what? Everyone there Maxed me out with perfect scores but my own First Sergeant. I had kept proof of all of that. I tried to transfer out of the company but he was the one who had to approve that. So the answer was Hell No that I was is property and that I wasn’t going anywhere. I tried to request change of MOS and again he had to be approve by him and I got the same answer! My whole chain of command knew what he was doing to me all along and he had discussion about it! I found out that both he and my company commander were going to be on leave for the very first time, since all of this started with HIM! I flew up to the company on a wing and a prayer asking God to please let whoever was replacing him allow me to put in a Levy to open me up to go anywhere, I DID NOT CARE just to get away from him! I asked to speak to him and told me to have a sit and when I felt like at last I had someone not in my chain of command or company and maybe for the first time I might have a chance. I didn’t tell him everything, because it was to painful and I felt like it was all my fault because I didn’t report it the first time it happen, so I was nothing, I was broken. After he listen to e he was so angry that he said go down stairs and get the damn papers from the admins office and I’m going to sign them and make sure that they are processed today!! I cant tell you how all that made me feel. It was about a month later. My First Sergeant called me and told me to get my ass over to the company ASAP. I was wondering want is going to try to do to me now, Because after I stopped him from rapping me it got a 100 times worst for me because he did any and everything to try to set me up! I got over there he had me at attention and he was cussing me out, saying that I thought that I was a smart MF for doing what I did and that it didn’t mean anything because he told that I was his property and that he wasn’t letting me go anywhere and I had to wait and go behind his back..during his ranting it dawned on me that I must have down on LEVY and I didn’t here anything after that but get the F out of my office and go down to the admins office and pick up your orders! I couldn’t move fast enough and when I got the papers in my hands and looked down and read GERMANY. I just started crying and I threw the papers up in the air and they went everywhere. He had come down behind me by then watching me with a big evil grin on his face. Then he told me Come back to my office, where he put me at attention again and started cussing me out again this time with the door open saying that he had the right to refuse to allow me to go by signing off on my papers and telling the commander to do the same, now what the hell did I have to say for myself? I had paperwork that was saying FREEDOM WAS MINE and I was not going to let him take it away from, so at this point and didn’t care anymore, one way or another I was getting hell away from this man, my husband and I had broke-up behind all of this, because I told him that he would get me in trouble if he went and beat the hell out of him and so I kept me at bay but I couldn’t let him touch me, because I felt so damaged! I Spoke Up for myself completely that day. With the door open I said ” When I Leave this office I am going straight down to the IG’S office and take everything that I have kept about how you have first made my life a living hell because I would not have a relationship with you ( and as I spoke my voice went from a low weak voice to a strong loud voice and sheer fear was on his face) He jumped up and said NO NO wait a min. and hurried upped and closed the door. I finished off with saying ” Then How you rapped me, not once but 4 times before I found the strength to stop it” I turned and was walking out of his office and he was begging me to wait! I did go straight to the IG’S office and he was a Colonel that knew me well enough that he called me by my nickname Fred, we did volunteer work together !every month. When I gave him my package and sit there crying because I was done, this was it. He was reading it while I told him the whole story. He looked over at me and said Fred you are a Spit Shine Out Standing Soldier and we have know each other and done volunteer work together a long time, while didn’t you come to me and tell me what happening to you. I told with all do respect Sir you have never done or said anything to me or around me to make me feel uncomfortable but when you have had this type of behavior coming at you from the time that you entered the service, I felt like what I have been taught is true Rank as its Privileges and if you are a new soldier, that you are not going to be believed because you are not going ruin a career soldiers future! he stood up walked around his desk and picked upped the phone dialed a number and these are the words that he said ” AS OF 0700 HOURS TOMORROW THESE ARE THE CHARGES THAT ARE GOING TO BOUGHT UP AGAINST YOU, IF YOU AND YOUR COMMANDER DONT SIGN HER DAMN PAPPERS TODAY” Something really big happened but it still gave him away out, but I will forever be greatful for what he did for me that day! I went right back over there to the company and this BIG BAD MONSTER had turned into a mouse. He was sweet as pie he signed my papers and told me to come back over later when the commander came back and could pick them up and instead of the normal 30 days that you get when you clear Quarters when you life off post, he told you don’t have to go back to work as of today so you will have 60 days to clear!! The military acknowledge that I have PTSD but they say that it is not service connected because i.e. I was a OUTSTANDING SOLDIER that NEVER got into any legal trouble to this day! Also I never requested to be transferred. This makes me what to throw up! ARE YOU KIDDING ME I KEPT REQUESTING TO BE TRANSFRED BUT THE PERSON THAT WAS OVER THAT WAS THE PERSON THAT RAPED ME and told me that I was their property, their piece of meat and that he was never going let me go anywhere, SO when they are looking over the facts and the see the name of the person that I am accusing of raping me aren’t they smart enough to know this person is the one that I have to go to for a request to be transferred. This is so insulting and lacks common sense, so am l still dealing will a military mentality? Then they said I never requested a change of MOS. HUH YES I DID TO THE SAME PERSON THAT RAPED ME,AND GOT THE SAME ANSWER FROM HIM. Come ON PEOPLE WAKE UP, who does these things ex-military, active duty military or civilians because the it makes you want to shot screen these responses and send to 60mins and Ask is this the military getting better concerning how they happen sexually abuse soldiers? I have been in counseling and if its with the military they try to brain wash me into saying that some people in power position don’t abuse that by hurting others, and that their is no reason for you to have trust issues or intimacy issues. Its hard for me to have a relationship because I get detached whenever I feel as if I have been hurt, then I shut down and I cant stand for them to touch me and I am not going to lay there and go through the motions as one counselor told me l needed to do and just accept that’s my fate of life. Not to be able to feel any kind of love or desire for the opposite sex. Well I have married again because I’ve been told I am the marring kind, a great catch. Well they just don’t know my issues. Its been almost 3 years and I have only been able to be intimate with my husband 3 times and it hurts him and me…I am so damage…and fridge.

  2. I can see both points of view on this topic… public sex offender registries. I was sexual assaulted in the AF, which resulted in birth of a baby girl. To this day I have not told her she was/is the result of such a crime. she is now 20, still demanding to know who her biological father is. Having his info. NOT public protects her from locating him and being anywhere near him….as she is now at the age i was when he raped me. Granted, i think everyone should know he is a scum bag, in my case i am glad his information isnt public.

  3. I have a question, Evonne. Are you protecting her, or are you really protecting yourself? She deserves to know the truth and the truth will set you free. I love you. We are all here for you. Nothing in this life worth doing is easy, but trust me, you need this.

  4. I agree that she needs to know before she turns on you. Not telling a child/adult can be, in many cases, more traumatizing then not telling them. I speak from personal experience on this. I gave up my daughter when she was born and she contacted me to get information on family history etc and wanted to know who her father was. She didnt like the news at first, but has come to love me totally and she gets it.

  5. Cecelia when I read your post it gave me the strength for the first time since my ETS in 1984 to every put down just some of what happened to me. I just read over it and saw all of the errors I made, but I didnt even proof read it after I got done. I had just gotten off the phone talking to the Vet Crisis Line for over 3 hours, and they suggested that I come to this site, that it would help me because I would find other Vets that have, and are still being treated like me by the VA System. I had just gotten back from a appt with my social worker, who is trying to help me with my sexual dysfunction. While still at the VA Hospital I decided to stop by there DAV Office on site. The man there in charge was the Most insensitive Human Being that I have ever tried to get information from to make a claim concerning PTSD for MST. All I needed was my letter of denial and he claimed that I had never filed a claim hoping that I would just leave and It took a lot just for me to go there to request it, so I wouldnt give up. After he found the claim, he wouldnt print me a copy of the denial and I had enough. I told him that I Knew he had a Mother, but I didnt know if he had a wife, daughters, females cousins, or friends, but I pray to God that if they ever had a problem and had to deal with a man that they would never encounter anyone as insensitive as him. I didnt cry in front of him but I Sobbled all the way home. I was very ill with PTSD and Panic Attacks and whats now know as Fibromyalgia when I ETSed out of the service. I relived being raped for 6 years everytime I went to sleep, I have other medical problems and they are all stress related. I got a job after I out with the Federal Govt, so that I could carry over my military time towards my retirement. They told us for the first 90 days that they could fire us for whatever reason they wanted. I thought that I would be able to deal with anything after leaving the military, but when they said you cant be out sick within those 90 days, my heart was gripped with fear! I was having Panic Attacks and I didnt know what was happening to me. Everytime i went to a VA hospital they just kept telling me they didnt know what was wrong with me! Yes they did, they just didnt want to tell me about any of the medical conditions that I was suffering with that I came out of active duty with. I went to work one day and was sitting waiting to start in the breakroom and my supervisor came in and asked me if I was feeling any better that day, I looked up at him and I couldnt do anything but start laughing and crying at the same time! He told me to do not start your shift and to stay right there, he came back with someone to drive my car, and another person to fellow them to bring them back. By the time they got me to a civilian hospital, all I could remember then was that the Dr was coming and I couldnt remember my own name! I was afraid what was going to happened to me if I couldnt remember, that when the Dr came him I just was really messed up. I started telling him what had been going on with me and how long and Now I cant tell you what my name is! He placed his hand on my shoulder while I was still sobbing and said ” Its going to be alright, you are having Panic Attacks” he said that he would be right back and came back and gave me a shot. He explained to me what they were and the medication that he was putting me on and after all those years, 1 shot started calming down everything that was making me feel like I had lost It! I have 50% disability and they have fought all of this time to wear me out by keeping me stressed out whenever I say OK its time for me to deal with this. They have the nerve to say that I have PTSD but its not service connected. I could only work 9 1/2 years before I was forced into talking a disability retirement. Now I get the lettters that say that happened to you in your other job! No actually I was really messed up after the service but I was a single parent by then and I kept pushing myself because I was responsible for the well being of my daughter. I Almost killed myself, in pushing myself like that and my health is that of someone much older then me. I tell people all the time dont keep painful things to yourself because turning it inward equals stress and that is the underliner to all illness. If there was a Sexual Register because more then half of the men and women who commit these crimes on active duty would be on it, and where would that leave the military? Evonne I have a adopted daughter and I knew that I would tell her that she was when I adopted her from birth. I bought her home from the Hospital. The military took away my ability to bare children. They are going to have special issues that you work with them along or with counseling anyway. I think that its unfair for you not to tell her and she has the right to know. My daughter did and I felt bad about the fact that I didnt think pass the fact that I would be able to give her a great home and she wouldnt want for anything, to that that one day she would ask me who was her father? So I had to tell her that she had another birth mother and father! It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life but I owned it to her. You didnt do anything wrong and I want you did by giving life to her and keeping her was a very brave and hard thing to do, so you should be her Hero. Let her know so that she came get on with what she needs to do to have closure concerning the Monster that raped you. I’m sure that you know that if she wanted to seek out that part of her bloodline so that she will know all the medical information she needs to know. He caused you Harm that came never be changed but God blessed you with something beautiful for that. Your big need to protect her from ever knowing who her father is is proof of that!

  6. I was sexually assaulted at the MEPS station in Denver 1989. I write out a statement and they did nothing. I’m still affected by it. This is the first time I’ve told someone.

    1. LMG you have taken a huge step out of the shadows. What I did to let go is write everything I thought and feel out on paper. I didn’t correct it, I just wrote it all down, stuck it in an envelope and put it in a mailbox. It isn’t a perfect solution and I’m still struggling with stuff but it helped me. I offer my prayers and may God keep you and give you peace.

    2. At age 19 (not long after the Viet Nam War) I enlisted in the Army. Three months later I quit my job and reported to Fort Hamilton. The 1st night I was there I was placed in a full bunker alone. Not long after I fell asleep I was awakened by someone on top of me and was violently raped.
      I have never told anyone until now. Except when I reported the rape that night, was told to go back to my bunk because someone would contact me in the morning when they arrived on base.
      That didn’t happen and I was then ignored. I left without permission or even telling anyone (AWOL?) and have remained unaccounted for until this day. Maybe it benefitted the army that I left because no one from the Army has looked for me or would provide me with separation papers when I asked for them by mail to discharge me some months after leaving. Did I mention he made me pregnant and I miscarried?
      Now when I ask for separation papers they say that I never existed in the army.

      It’s been a long time that I’ve carried this and knowing the abuse continues is unacceptable.

      That’s my story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s