Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth’s Story

I joined the military in 1988 when I was 18 years old. I was sent for basic training and then on to AIT. After AIT, I received my orders for Korea. When I reported to Korea, I found out that I was up north at Camp Hovey / Camp Casey and I was the only female in an all-male company. When I arrived, people made it very clear that they did not want me there. When I reported to my Platoon Sergeant he said, “I thought it was a mistake when they said a women was coming here. Hope you can keep up because we won’t show you any slack. I can’t believe you think you have a right to be in this company. This company has never had females, and we are not about to start now.” I later reported this to the company commander and he warned me. He said, “There are a lot good men upset that a female is in the company. I cannot be responsible for remarks they may make or of any hazing.”

One day, we were to go “down range,” meaning off-post. They were going to show me around all their favorite spots. We turned to go down a dark alley, which they said was a shortcut. I was then gang raped by eight male soldiers. This was the worst experience of my life. They also found it necessary to use an object on me, and there was nowhere that was not violated. I was vaginally and anally raped repeatedly. I had nowhere to turn.

The ringleader of this was my platoon sergeant. These men made my entire one-year tour a living hell. They would threaten me and give me “reminders.” I often blame myself and wish I had the courage to find someone to tell and report this to. To hell with the chain of command. I say this because I felt that when I met with the company commander, his words were a warning, and he was clear he was not responsible. My platoon sergeant was a big part of the rapes and had knowledge of the others. I felt that I could not go to my chain of command.

I got pregnant from these rapes. I cannot say who the father was. I only know it was one of the eight men. I gave birth when I left Korea, and came back home. Unfortunately, he passed away at 2 ½ months old from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

I am currently getting treatment for PTSD from MST. After 26 years, I finally broke the silence. I went to get help for alcoholism, but thankfully, the great providers at a VA Medical Center saw the deeper problem and are giving me help.

Last month as I was walking through the main entrance of the VA Hospital, I was faced with the worst case scenario. Thank God for PE Therapy, because I was able to handle this. I saw one of my attackers. We locked eyes. The fear that whelmed up in me was tremendous. I could not breathe, my chest was tight, I broke out in a sweat, my heart was beating out of my chest and just wanted to get out of there. I was able to get out of there and regain my composure.

Later, as I was calm, it hit me. The worse has come to light. There was no preparation for that moment, nor could there be. There would always be that voice saying “what is the likelihood of that happening?” It did happen, and I got through it. What also hit me the look on his face. He was just as frightened to see me as I was of him.

I realized that I have the power now. He does not have power over me anymore. I am sure every time he walks through those doors at the VA, he is looking over his shoulder wondering what is going to happen, if anything will happen.

I have recently found my voice. I want to help other survivors, and will do anything I can to stop this from happening to other service women.