Written on July 4th 2011 for the MST online community in dedication of the many fallen men and women who did not survive Military Sexual Trauma. The narration is told from a service-member's point-of-view. I found it on Facebook and uploaded it here. It's written by a former Marine.
The Forgotten Soldier: a Victim's Story
" You are a young person, a man or a woman, who joins the military to serve the country. You enlist, go through weeks of difficult training to wear a uniform you are proud of. At first you begin your military career with enthusiasm and energy. You have high scores and a bunch of potential. The sky's the limit.
While you are serving, either in garrison or abroad in the uncomfortable deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan, your fellow peers begin to taunt you. They taunt you because you are different, a woman. At first it begins lightly, then they degrade into sexual innuendos. At first you shrug it off, but soon the joking become physical. You are "accidentally" bumped into, or propositioned for sex. You turn to your bosses, but they, too, are in on the "joke." One of them even tries to coerce you to sleep with him/her.
The jeering and jesting makes you unhappy and as you become more and more isolated, you slip into depression. As your confidence is daily challenged, your work performance begins to slip. Over time your scores sink. You are constantly stressed out, nervous and you've developed insomnia. You can't relax since everywhere you go, your peers take every opportunity to tear you down, either verbally or physically. Distraught, you go to the doctor who prescribes you some meds, and for this you are further ridiculed by your co-workers. Increasingly, you begin to isolate yourself.
Then one night, when you least suspect it, you are raped, either by a date-rape drug, while you are drugged-out from your meds, while you are sleeping or worse, while you are conscious. You are surprised that it isn't an Iraqi or a stranger who is doing this to you, but another soldier you work with, your boss or a friend from the barracks. The next morning you try to put the pieces together as you drag yourself to medical. Afraid to admit that this happened, you decide not to ask for a rape kit because you know that they will ask you 52 questions which are designed to make you look like a slut. You remember when another Marine from your unit reported being raped by her boyfriend and how she was treated like a criminal after enduring a 6 month trial that resulted in her perpetrator being acquitted. The last thing you needs are the guys from work saying that you "asked for it" during an investigation. Politely, you thank the nurses and slip out of the clinic.
Back at work everyone seems to be in on your terrible secret as they cast sneering looks in your direction. You can barely work. You can't eat. When night comes, you can't sleep, afraid to re-live the horror. When your mom calls, you break down and admit that what happened, but she can't help you. Miles away in the US, her only advice is to file a complaint. At first, you blow her off, but as the sneers and jeers continue and the sleeplessness mounts, you concave.
Working up the nerve, you knock on your superior's office door to tell him what happened. From behind his desk, he/she raises his/her eyebrow in disgust and tells you to "deal with it" and report it to your NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer-In-Charge), Sergeant ______.
You bite your lip: Sergeant ______ was the one who raped you. You tell him/her this, and he just stares at you, with more disgust on his face. He/She calls in your Sergeant, who denies everything, citing the fact that you have a poor work performance, that you are taking meds and that you are depressive. In the end, your superior tells you to suck it up, and you are dismissed. Trying to hold it together, you return to work and are closely supervised by your Sgt, the same person who raped you days earlier.
You can barely function. After work, you rush to your room sleep, but you can't. It's 2300 and you have to be up in 5 hours and your sleeping pills aren't working. You reach over and take another one. Eventually you drowse off, but not before noticing that your door opens (funny, you though you locked it?). As you drift to sleep, the face of your Sgt appears above you and he/she is seething at you in anger. His/her face is the last thing you will ever see alive...
The next day is silent. Your alarm rings, but you aren't there to turn it off. Your uniform hangs in your wall-locker, starched and ready. For two days your room is suspended in perfect silence until finally the door is opened, once again, this time by a group of soldiers who are looking for you.
Among the pile of sheets, they see your hand, slipped out among the covers. One of the MP's pokes you, but you do not respond. As they draw away the covers, they see your face, broken, bruised and lifeless. They begin to take pictures of the scene and do not missed the perfectly staged bottle of sleeping pills and Jack which your Sergeant placed there after he/she murdered you. He/she even put your fingerprints on the Jack (you don't like Jack, you drink tequila!) and emptied your sleeping pills. Your superiors appear at the doorway and are quickly questioned by the police. As the MP's take notes and interview witnesses, the words "depressed" and "suicide" are tossed around.
On the official report, you are listed as a suicide. Because of this your family back home does not get any money to bury your body, nor do they get compensated for your death. They are left with questions and your mother spends many sleepless nights wondering what happened to you and why you killed yourself. She asks the military for your diaries and letters, but somehow they are lost in storage. If she could read them she would see his/her name among the lines..."Sgt____ raped me, and nobody listened."
After reading the fictionalized, second-perspective account of what happened to this woman, we hope we've painted a serious portrait of these crimes, and illustrated just how under-reported and un-just these stories are. Sadly, this story has a real-world parallel. LCpl Marie Lauterbach and Carrie Goodwin (USMC), U.S. Army Lt. Holley Wimunc, PFC Tina Priest & Lavena Johnson and SPC Keisha Morgan are a few of the many whose deaths are under reported and unsolved. The military chooses to call their deaths "suicides" and ignores the fact they claimed to have been raped. In the case of LCpl Goodwin, her rapist still works for the USMC, as do many of the rapists of MST victims.
Please take time to google and research any of these women and their stories and write to a congressman. Until the military takes accountability for their deaths and their rapists, there will be more stories like theirs. If this was your daughter, wife, sister, girlfriend, what would you do?
(Since the Gulf War, the military has attempted to bridge the gap between victims and under-reported crimes of rape and MST. While we still have a long way to go, here is a resource that the US military has made for victims of MST (http://www.sapr.mil/). Civilian counselors can also be reached at PackParachute and VETWOW. Susan Avila-Smith and a group of women in the Northwest and across the nation are also coordinating their efforts to represent victims of MST in the Armed Forces. If you or a loved one needs help, please google any one of these names, organizations or websites listed above. If you are a counselor or a civilian who would like to learn more about how you can help, contact one of these organizations to see how you can help MST survivors from this fate)."