I’d like to say thank you for the continuous trauma you have caused me. You took advantage of my weakness. Through the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) investigative process and an expert witness toxicologist testimony, I was found to be substantially intoxicated. I tried to avoid you the entire day and night. You would walk near me, and I’d simply avoid you by going a different direction. I had no interest in you as a friend or sexually, whatsoever. I was there just to be with my friends, my true Army Family. You were the hunter, and I was your prey.
I went through what I call a “stair step” of emotional being.
Let’s start at the top.
I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and once I received treatment from the appropriate services, I was prescribed four different medications to treat my symptoms, simultaneously, for lack of sleep, depression and anxiety. Now I’m down to one.
Because of you I had to resign early as a drill sergeant, a job I loved wholeheartedly.
I appreciate my command team so much for sticking by on “a need-to-know basis.” If there were rumors, I never heard of them.
I feel lucky probable cause was found. There was an article 32 hearing and there was enough information to show that, due to a preponderance of evidence, a sexual assault occurred. The court martial was held eight months after my assault occurred. Which is quite rare to have a case go to court-martial, and for that I felt lucky.
My special victims counsel prepared me so well: “The defense attorney is going to say things that you don’t like. Remember that’s their job.”
That became my mantra while I was sitting on the stand across from you, my perpetrator.
“It’s his job, it’s his job, it’s his job, and it’s his job to make the sexual assault that occurred my fault.”
You received a conviction: a two-year sentence.
Every now and then I pull your name up in National Sex Offender Public Website and think to myself, “You look like the cookie cutter perpetrator, you look just like what we think of the creepy guy in the woods would look like.”
You were supposed to be a brother in arms. You were a Soldier. This isn’t supposed to happen, not in our Army.
As service members we take care of our military Family, which you chose not to do. Because of the trauma you have caused me, I’ve become my own hero and advocate. It took me some time. But I’ve found my calling in the field of victim advocacy with the SHARP program, and volunteering with other organizations dealing with sexual violence.
During my case, I saw my victim advocate twice. Once during the intake before I went through the intrusive sexual assault forensic exam, and secondly when I had to drop off Soldiers for a CID interview for a SHARP case. Yes, during this time I was still a victim advocate.
The lack of care received from my victim advocate has only led me to the path of providing the best nonclinical care, advocacy and empathy our Soldiers deserve.
Because of my perpetrator I am stronger, I have a louder voice and I am a true empath when it comes to supporting victims through their most traumatic events in their life. I don’t share my story with victims, but through my trauma this helps build a connection of understanding and empathy in victim and survivor care.
For those victimized by sexual assault, there is healing past these horrible experiences. It’s on your timeline and schedule, define your own timeline on the process of healing. Have a victim advocate and also be your own advocate. In time you may discover who you really are. Define a path to resiliency, find your inner strength and be your own hero!