Rape in the US military is a topic that the Department of Defense does not like seeing in the news, because it does not help with its recruitment process which requires a constant supply of fresh cannon fodder to feed the war machine. However, rape in the military is a systemic problem that has imposes a devastating personal toll on the victims, both male and female.
To find in-depth reporting on this issue, one must look to the foreign press, in this case Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is not subject to the DoD censorship that is imposed on the untrustworthy organs of the Homeland media.
Must watch link for interviews with rape victims.
“I was paralyzed with fear. I was in disbelief… shame. When I reported it to the commander he sadi it was better for me to deal with it after being discharged. Nobody helped me, not even the chaplain.”
“My experience left me torn apart physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was dehumanized and treated with ultimate cruelty. And being part of an elite organization that values brother, integrity and faithfulness maide it hard to come forward.”
“Through the gossip mill we would hear of women who had reported being raped. No confidentially was maintained nor any protection given to the victims. The boys club culture is strong and the competition exclusive. That forces many not to report rape, because it is a blemish and can ruin your career.”
Susan Avila-Smith, an MST (military sexual trauma) survivor who has been working with female and male clients for over 15 years, spoke with Al Jazeera.
“People cannot conceive how badly wounded these people are. Of the 3,000 I’ve worked with, only one is employed. Combat trauma is bad enough, but with MST it’s not the enemy, it’s our guys who are doing it. You’re fighting your friends, your peers, people you’ve been told have your back. That betrayal, then the betrayal from the command is, they say, worse than the sexual assault itself.”
Earlier this month, the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking Pentagon records to get the facts about the incidence of sexual assault in the military. The Pentagon has consistently refused to release information that documents this problem. Although sexual assaults on women have gotten some visibility, there has been absolute silence about male victims, of which there is an even larger number due to their sheer numbers in the military (at a rough estimate one in twenty).
One of the male victims, Billy Capshaw, was fated to become the Army roomate of Jeffrey Dahmer, the same Jeffrey Dahmer who went on to be come the sexual offender and serial killer of 17 boys. At the time, Capshaw complained to his commander who refused to believe him. No one else in the military was willing to help him either. Capshaw has since endured a lifelong debilitating struggle which is common among survivors of military sexual assault.
Although women have been allowed in the military since 1775, their travails have existed since that time. As a Command Sergeant Major told Catherine Jayne West of the Mississippi National Guard,
“There aren’t but two places for women – in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Women have no place in the military.”
Ms. West was raped at Camp Anaconda, Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. Although the army’s criminal investigation team concluded her story was true and it seemed like a closed case, the accused was promoted and later found guilty of kidnapping but not rape, despite his own admission of the crime.
Tracey Harmon, an dministrator for a combat engineering instruction unit in Knoxville, Tennessee, has no illusions.
“For women in the military, you are either a bitch, a dyke, or a whore. If you sleep with one person in your unit you are a whore. If you are a lesbian you are a dyke, and if you don’t sleep with other soldiers you are a bitch.”
In 2009 there were 3,230 case of sexual assault reported by the DoD, but victims and advocates believe the real figures are sure to be higher.
Susan Avila-Smith’s advice to victims of rape in the military is to
“go seek civilian help, try to stay out completely of the military jurisdiction if possible. Do not get involved legally through JAG or any other office because it’s a no-win situation for the victim.”
April Fitzsimmons, a military veteran who was also a victim of sexual assault, understands the uphill battle women victims face when taking on the military. She gives advice to women considering joining the US military.
“The crisis is so severe that I’m telling women to simply not join the military because it’s completely unsafe and puts them at risk. Until something changes at the top, no woman should join the military.”
Update: marymccurnin just posted the important link to the Military Rape Crisis Center.