To start, this is quite possibly the most cathartic history I must share with those who are willing to read and understand the emotional turmoil I have endured since I was sexually harassed. This is a story I have kept to myself until recently as I’ve come to realize suicide is not the way because one person decided to influence others to cause a hostile work environment. My assailant was the constant negative catalyst to my experience in the Army. While serving in C 1-84 FA, I was not the perfect soldier. In fact, I still had a lot to learn from the leaders I had during this time, but for this soldier whose name I wish I could blast so that he will be forever marked for what he did. He was abusive, sexually verbal, and used his power to insult my identity, which carried over into my next unit. He was also assigned after we were given orders back to the states.
In 2012, Germany closed the colors of many units and sent us serving to different units back in the states. I never expected to end up with the man who would constantly berate me and call me “teabags” while serving with C 1-84 FA in Baumholder, Germany. However, I could have done something during that time. I had this resilient mindset of never seeing him again. Even when I found out he too was going to be stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It was another thought of, “Oh, I won’t interact with him again.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was the first time I had been sexually harassed in my life, being called “teabags,” which was influenced by other soldiers to call me the same thing making obscene gestures of sexually explicit actions. This man is to blame as I have since had many visits with a therapist, never taking a moment to report him in fear that the soldiers who respected him would retaliate against me. I feared he, too, would retaliate against me. Still, in 2014 he made sure I would never grow as a leader and influenced another man, who was a self-proclaimed “asshole” to make sure I was not going to have a good experience trying to learn my job as a newly promoted E-5 Sergeant at the time. I was alone, walking on eggshells, in a new hostile work environment because of a man who influenced it all, who I believe must be held accountable for his actions. It may sound silly as to why “teabags” would be offensive, but to me, it is an insult to my last name and family history being thrown around to make me look bad.
After losing my sense of focus, I began to make mistakes that caused his friend to become hostile to me. I didn’t know what to do or how to fix these conflicts. I was powerless to improve myself, and on April 22, 2014, I was hospitalized for wanting to cause major harm to this friend. The influence caused by my original harasser from Germany to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, caused me to message him with a lot of malice recently. I have said things to him that are only words, but I really wanted to harm this man as he did to me. To no surprise, his response became extra hostile as he decided to gaslight me and remind me about being a bad soldier. The best leaders I had at the time reminded me how human it is to make these mistakes and learn from them. However, overcoming my own mistakes and growing up to become a young leader and a better soldier. This never stopped my harasser from treating me any different than how he did before. I lost my sense of interest in moving on with my career in the Army.
The leaders who helped me grow reinforced a more positive perspective of my achievements and growth to have better peace of mind. These men were quite possibly the toughest, fairest, most respected leaders I will always remember, who gave me the perspective of how many great leaders there are compared to one individual who ruined my life. These men are the example of why good soldiers become great soldiers or how bad soldiers who have had horrible upbringings like me would become better people, soldiers, leaders, and influencers to younger generations of soldiers. I thank God every day that I have had the experience to know and become better by all these men I mentioned. At this point in my life, I am tired of holding in this story and will do whatever I can to take action against my harasser for what he did to me and how he influenced others to cause a hostile work environment. He does not deserve the title he carries for the past trauma he caused me, starting with calling me “teabags.” A sexually explicit term for his cruel jokes then became the identity that was carried over where I had no room to avoid it. It was my fault I never said anything during that time; I have too many people in my life who wouldn’t begin to understand why I would suddenly decide to kill myself. I am done internalizing this part of my history and will let everyone who wants to make the Army a better place learn from my bad experience. Again, this man who harassed me has caused too much distress for me to carry myself to continue being in the Army. I have since been out with a medical discharge now rated at 100% by the V.A. and 50% by the Army in 2018.
To those who have taken the time to read my story. Nobody should have to experience what I have. There are many ways to teach someone how to better themselves than to cause hostility as a learning experience and using sexually explicit terms to junior soldiers in some belief that this will help them grow. The men I mentioned before will take credit for helping me get through my darkest times and keep me running at a great pace during my brightest moments. As the Army will always be my alma mater, I want nothing but the best, but leaders like the man who harassed me still strive while I suffer. I can no longer keep silent about my dark past with him involved. If nothing is done, I will do whatever is necessary to make an example out of him. Anything can and should be done about him. The Army does not have any place for internal hostility. It is always about the external defenses of our nation and those who stand to the left and right of our men and women in the ranks.