June 27, 2012
Please take a moment to read the attached letter from 200 Veterans who have been raped or sexually assaulted while serving their country thanking the 123 co-sponsors of Congresswoman’s Speier’s groundbreaking Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act – or STOP Act (HR3435).
These patriotic warriors deserve our praise and admiration for their courage in speaking out today. It’s not easy.
Many of them have long hidden in the shadows, afraid for a variety of reasons: afraid of being disbelieved or ridiculed; afraid that their unpunished perpetrator might learn where they live.
They are now speaking out because they want to protect their brothers and sisters serving now or in the future and because they have had enough and hope you have also.
To learn more we urge you to see The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigative documentary about the shocking epidemic of unpunished rape within the U.S. Military. It opens in theaters across the country on June 22nd (www.notinvisible.org). Kori Cioca, Jessica Hinves, Ariana Klay, Narelle Helmer, Paula Coughlin, and Michael Matthews, all veterans and survivors of rape or sexual assault within the military, are subjects of The Invisible War. Each has signed the attached letter.
The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 22,800 violent sexual crimes in the military in 2011. Yet, less than 13.5% report, primarily out of fear of retaliation. 20% of all active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted. Male service members are not immune from this epidemic. In 2010, out of 19,000 estimated sexual assaults, 10,700 involved male victims.
We need real protections for our brave service members who risk their lives to protect and defend us. Please join these veterans and your fellow representatives in support of transformational change to fix this problem. Our troops deserve better. Please co-sponsor HR 3435, the STOP Act.
Nancy Parrish, Founder
20 Park Road, Suite E, Burlingame, CA 94010
DATE: June 27, 2012
TO: Co-Sponsor of the STOP Act (HR3435)
FROM: 200 Veterans who have been raped or sexually assaulted at least once while serving in the United States Armed Forces between 1971 – 2011. Retaliation, including discharge and punishment, happened to many of us who tried reporting the crime.
We are encouraged that there is a growing awareness of the issue of military sexual violence and the failure of the military leadership to make the changes necessary to fix the broken system. We are heartened that measures are being considered in Congress to fundamentally address this issue, but there remains a shocking level of ignorance surrounding this problem.
According to the Department of Defense, more than 19,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred within the services in 2010, yet only 13.5% were reported.
As survivors of sexual violence within the military, we are all too familiar with the lack of care, victim-blaming, retaliation and failure to punish the perpetrator that has become a hallmark of Military Sexual Trauma.
From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to thank you for co-sponsoring the STOP Act (HR3435). For over 25 years, Congress has held hearings and attempted to fix the problem through well meaning incremental change. It has not worked.
The time is now to fix the broken system through transformational change. We need to face the problem head on and — by passing the STOP Act — fix this silent epidemic once and for all.
Please encourage your fellow Representatives to join you in this effort.
Some names have been printed without surnames to protect privacy upon request.