The first time I was violated in 2014, I was found passed out in my car at a stoplight. I was taken to a hospital nearby and woke up hours later with no recollection of how I came to be there. I called my Leading Petty Officer (LPO) and told her what happened to me. She told me to come see her the following Monday. I had been raped that Thursday.
I had another surgery done on me. That Monday, I came into work and my LPO told me to go to my chief. My chief at the time got mad at me because I was supposed to report to the on-base hospital after being released from the civilian hospital. I never knew that at that time. He told me to go see my primary care physician and then proceeded to tell other people at our job that he thought I was raped and that he didn’t know how to report it. I was assigned an advocate and was told that because my chain of command knew that I was raped, I couldn’t file an unrestricted report (POD Note: The information this survivor was provided was inaccurate; victims of sexual assault can always file an unrestricted report if they choose to do so). And if I didn’t file, I wouldn’t able to receive any of the mental health services (e.g. a social worker, psychiatrist, or military sexual trauma [MST] support groups).
I went on to be a great sailor on paper. I was the chain of command’s go-to person. However, outside of work, I was mentally deteriorating.
Beginning in May 2015, I was raped repeatedly for three months and my chain of command never addressed the change in my personality. They all said they knew something was wrong, but since I didn’t speak up, they never asked. They only found out because I had a room inspection, and my room was a pigsty. They also found out that I bought a dog and had him certified as an emotional support animal. When they confronted me about my room, they told me they knew something was wrong and that they cared about me, I broke down. I told them if they cared about me, they would’ve known for the past three months I was being assaulted nearly every week. I was totally emotionally spent by then.
I was told I either needed to report my case myself or my chain of command was going to report it for me, meaning I did not have a choice in whether my report would be unrestricted or restricted.
From there I had a social worker who advocated for me. I was sent to an inpatient clinic for a month, outpatient clinic for two months, and was told to report back to work after treatment. I was then told that because of my trauma, I was getting a medical board. I am now on the last leg of my medical board. I’ve been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and severe migraines. That’s what this trauma gave me and my military service is kicking me out for.
My psychiatrist has told me that I probably won’t get better mentally until I’m out of the military. I wholeheartedly believe that now. I joined the military to have a family, and now I know that this is not a family. It’s a cruel corporation with only a few helpful individuals. For every helpful individual, there are six unhelpful individuals who are part of your chain of command – who don’t care unless it reflects badly on them. This base is a bad place for women. I am one voice out of many here who don’t have any proper guidance or mentorship. We hear about how this base is helping survivors, but when you’re one of those survivors, you know that this is not really going on. My workplace treats me like I’m a mentally insane person, and I have to be handled with child gloves so I won’t emotionally burst at work. It’s a horrible existence to live.
I want to get better. I want to have a loving and caring relationship with my family, friends, and future boyfriend. But now, I have no clue if I’m ever going to really get past all this disappointment, hurt, and betrayal. You try to be strong, but all you feel is hopelessness. You try to look for a better outlook, but all you see is the past. The military changed my life, but this trauma changed my existence forever.