I joined the US Army in October 2008 and departed for basic training days after Christmas. I was beyond excited about starting my life. I was a military police officer and left Minnesota for Ft. Bliss, Texas where I was assigned to my first company.
I was with the unit for about six months when I was moved to a new platoon. I was in the hospital due to a surgery and my new squad leader came in to introduce himself. He was so nice and I felt very accepted. As soon I was back to duty, he took me under his wing. I had entered the Army as a PFC. My squad leader told me over and over that this showed him I really wanted to move up the ranks. He promised to help me with my E5. My ultimate goal was to be a Sergeant within 2 years.
Of course, I wasn’t aware that he was manipulating me. All I could see was someone wanting to help me. He was married and supposedly going through a divorce. We had a very close friendship that eventually crossed a line. When it became more than friendship, I found out he had lied to me and was still married. I told him I was going to the command, and he threatened me by saying that I would be the one to get in trouble because I am a female.
From that day on, I avoided him as much as I could. It was hard because he was my squad leader. I became the “problem” soldier. He would call me out on stuff just to humiliate me in front of people. He became controlling. He would check up on me at the barracks and do “room inspections” to make sure I didn’t have a boyfriend. Finally, we had come down on orders to deploy.
I deployed to Afghanistan. I was happy I was deploying when I actually got there. This was what I signed up for. Our mission was to train Afghan police while there. My mind was set on being able to show what I learned.
I landed two weeks after my unit in August 2010. My squad leader picked me up and two other soldiers. Our tents were co-ed. I walked in and all the females were at the end. My squad leader made sure I had a bunk in the middle, right next to him. He monitored my every move.
My squad then moved from a large camp of KAF to a smaller base. One day I was about to gear up and go on guard when my squad leader called me over to his truck. I stood at parade rest while he went off, yelling and screaming, about me having a boyfriend. I told him I wanted nothing to do with him, that he was my squad leader and to leave it as such. He swung his arm and slapped me across the face. I froze. He turned around and I walked away crying. A female soldier asked if I was ok when she saw me running. I ignored it and went on guard. We went back to the small camp. I was now being humiliated, having to follow him around per his commands because if I did not, I would have repercussions.
The next week, we went back on mission. He wasn’t sleeping in the tent like the rest of us. He had his own tent set up behind his truck. One night when it was late, he called me over and told me to sit down on his cot. He sat next to me and swung my legs up so I was facing him. I moved my legs back onto the ground only to have him move them up again. He apologized to me and started crying, asking me to forgive him. Next thing I know, he was facing me and his hands were grabbing my shorts. He pulled on them and I pulled them back up, telling him to stop. I was horrified. I started to cry. He penetrated and I was frozen. I stared at his eyes, unable to close mine. My body was cold. I felt like throwing up. I felt like screaming. Nothing came out. I heard nothing but silence in that moment. I felt like I had gone deaf. But I’m able to say NO, and for him to stop. When I did hear people, I tried to talk, but he covered my mouth with his hand. I went completely numb like my soul wasn’t with my body. Once he was done, he walked out while I sat there, numb and disgusted. I roughly wiped myself clean at the port-a-potty, only to still feel dirty. I went to my bed and tried to sleep.
I went through the next 5 days without having to be around him. On day six, we were about to go back to our main camp, but a situation arose and we had to hold down the police station. I was trying to sleep when he came into the large tent to the back where I was on the bottom cot. He unzipped my sleeping bag and fondled my breasts. I rolled over and he left the tent. The next night, he came in again and shook me awake. He was holding his penis and told me I was up for guard duty. When I sat up, he grabbed my head and tried to force himself into my mouth. I pulled back and heard my friend at the end of the cot. I felt saved, but he told her to leave. He fixed himself and left. She asked me what that was about. I told her he woke me for guard, although I still had another 3 hours.
We got back to main camp. I could not take it anymore. I went to my chaplain there and told him everything. Within 10 minutes, I was sitting in my commander’s office. She told me what options I had to report it and kept hinting that saying stuff like this wasn’t going to send me home. I saw the Battalion’s EO representative who made the report. I was sent to my tent where my squad leader pulled me out. He was nervous and said he loved me and didn’t do anything wrong.
The next day, the commander brought me to her office and told me that I’m being pulled from my squad because they don’t want me around them. She assigned me to a female NCO, who said she was raped before, too. However, this NCO was my assaulter’s best friend. The commander stated her friendship with my perpetrator wouldn’t get in the way.
I was then sent out to a small police station with this platoon. I was harassed everyday and was an outcast. I was humiliated and degraded by this female who was supposed to be helping me. We had events for Christmas when I saw my assaulter and I collapsed. I was yelled and screamed at for making a scene. I contemplated ending my life. I wanted to die. I finally was able to see a therapist, but the platoon wasn’t taking kindly to my appointments since it was a burden on them and their patrols.
I did not go to trial with my case because I felt pressured not to. The lawyer that was supposed to help me told me that I, too, could get in trouble for adultery and reduction in rank. Comments were made that it would be a lengthy case and I’d have to tell everyone about my case, which terrified me.
I was told to not talk about it. My command put no contact orders between the friends I had there and myself. I disobeyed them and got demoted. My new command kept saying no matter what I did, I wouldn’t be sent home. I attempted suicide. All weapons were taken from me and I had to be monitored. I was drugged up on psych. meds.
My unit moved me to a new unit where I had to be next to my assaulter again and see him daily. My panic attacks were at an all-time high. I sought out an Advocate and started receiving therapy.
I was in his unit until he was finally dishonorably discharged. He admitted to the assault. He was demoted to SPC and given an Article 15. The investigators found sufficient evidence of rape, sodomy, cruelty to soldiers and numerous other charges but he was only charged with assault by our commander, who reduced him from E5 to E4 and sent him back to the US. He never received any punishment for the rape, sexual touching, and maltreatment of soldiers.
I was told I was going through an MEB In November 2011. I had been diagnosed with PTSD. I just felt alone through it all. Like no one was on “my side.” My unit hated me for getting a “good NCO” in trouble. Other high-ranking personnel were talking of the case on Facebook and I just couldn’t take the whispers and taunting.
To this day, I am unable to be the woman I was before. I had so many high dreams for my military career. I wanted to be a drill sergeant. I wanted to go to K9 School. And that was taken away from me.
I am now involuntarily medically retired. I have to take a dog with me anywhere I go. I currently can’t sleep without having a chair barricading my door. I can’t walk around without being paranoid as if he’s watching me, waiting to do something else. I can barely close my eyes without medication. I see him in my nightmares. We have an MST coordinator at our VA, but it’s so backed up here that appointments are 3-4 months out. I want my life back!