Sexual assault, suicide, self-harm, alcohol/drug abuse
I joined the Army in September 1997 as an Infantryman. I did basic and AIT at Ft. Benning, GA. In January 1998 I was stationed at Ft. Drum, NY. I was 20 years old very naïve and new to being on my own. I had high hopes of completion of a career in the Armed Forces.
All those hopes were dashed in February when one evening I invited to a room with a few guys. Our main unit was in Panama doing jungle training so there were only a few left behind when I arrived. Most were either PCSing or on med hold.
Anyway, I was invited to the room. It was very dimly lit. They asked a few questions I thought nothing of it. They put a bottle of tequila down for me to drink. I thought I was accepted. I drank a bit. I had never really drank before so I thought wow I’m finally accepted. Anyway, I started to feel very light-headed and dizzy. I don’t remember much; however, I do recall not being able to move and being sexually assaulted and raped by numerous people. I woke up the next morning in a dumpster naked and with broken glass still in my body. I still have scars to this day.
However, I was still trying to figure out what had happened. I was in bad shape, yet I pulled myself together and went to one of the sergeants who was PCSing and asked him what I should do. He said, “Do I want to be known as gay [in a derogatory way] and get a dishonorable discharge?” He said just keep unit cohesion and suck it up, move on, the unit doesn’t need negativity, and as a new soldier, I would never go anywhere. So, I hid what happened to me for years.
I developed seizures and narcolepsy after that from being beat to a pulp. I even lost the ability to have children from that beating. I pushed on until my seizures and narcolepsy were exposed and I was diagnosed with a concussion.
My whole life went to shit. I kept getting into trouble because I couldn’t stay alert and kept having seizures. I was even nominated for an AAM award and an ARCOM, but I was denied for both from my commander because he deemed me an unfit infantryman. I still trained and did everything until I could not hide my condition anymore. I was med boarded in 1999. They put me on the permanent disability retirement list.
However, my life was still in ruins. I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. I turned to drugs and sex. It took a toll on me and my friends. I ruined my finances and everything. When I hit rock bottom, I found Jesus and that was my journey to forgiveness. My journey with Jesus has been tumultuous, to say the least. God has been very merciful to me kind generous and loving. Most definitely forgiving. It has been difficult to release my human desires to him to let him take over my life. To let Jesus take over my heart completely has been a journey. I struggle with the flesh when one side of me wants to take control all the time.
Jesus saved my life numerous times after what happened to me. I put a gun to my head and it malfunctioned. I kept running away to sex, drugs, alcohol. But God kept calling showing me His presence. I was not even worthy of the lifestyle I was living to even be in His presence. He showed mercy, love, and compassion. He has helped me through the journeys of forgiveness, anger, resentment, bitterness.
My biggest thing is the shame I live with.
I’ve been praying a lot about doing this post and I think it’s time I show the power of God to defeat that shame to open it up to the light of the world, to show everybody I am no longer ashamed anymore. I want to stand up and say yes, I was hurt, yes, I was betrayed, but I have found hope, love, and compassion.
I’ve also found friends who have been through some of the same incidents, who today show their love and compassion support and encouragement to me. In particular, when I stand up and finally say what happened I am no longer ashamed.
I understand this post may be shocking to some who may even feel it’s disgusting, or they don’t want to be my friend anymore.
I’m just sharing with you my life experience for those of you who know me from my younger years. I hope you will understand what I’ve been through to change my life and why I have had such a rough life from my 20s to my 40s — why I struggled.
I’m not the best artist or writer. I’m just writing my feelings. I am just opening up my heart to you to let you all know that if you were struggling with anything, sometimes forgiveness is the best option.
I am not a victim anymore. I am a survivor. I put it in God’s hands and forgive. It is a struggle sometimes to deal with these memories, these thoughts, but it also strengthens me and makes me stronger.
It gives me a will to succeed, push forward, and to make sure this never happens to another person again.