I was from a small town and had been sheltered all my life. I grew up in a Pentecostal Holiness Church where things were very strict. I was not allowed to date or go to my prom. I joined the Army under the Delayed Entry Program the summer of my Junior year of high school. Two weeks after graduating the next year, I left for Basic Training. Basic training was a good experience for me. It built my self-esteem and taught me about camaraderie.
I graduated Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC and moved on to AIT at Fort Gordon, GA. This is where the assault took place. I knew my assailant from seeing him around the barracks. Several of my friends were friends with him. He was older. I’d say he was in his late 20s to early 30s. I was 18. One of my battle buddies and I went out with her boyfriend and his friend (my assailant). I have trouble remembering some of the events of that night. There was some alcohol involved. I do remember that my battle buddy did not want to go to a hotel room alone with her boyfriend and my assailant, so I went with her. I did not consider the dangers of this situation; after all, I was with fellow Soldiers. That was safe, right? Like I said, I knew my assailant and saw him as a big brother. My battle buddy and her boyfriend slept in one bed, and my assailant and I slept in the other. I woke up in the middle of the night to him on top of me. I tried to push him off, but he was stronger than me. I distinctly remember the smell of cigarettes and alcohol coming from his nostrils and he breathed heavily in my face. I was afraid to move or even make a sound. The next morning, I said nothing to my battle buddy. I was afraid that she heard the whole thing and thought that I had consented to it. I was ashamed of what had happened.
As is normal, I blamed – and still blame – myself for being in that situation to begin with. I was afraid to report it for fear of retaliation, judgment, punishment, etc. I thought that my new career in the Army would be cut short. I still deal with issues from my assault, even though it happened in 1996. I just recently started attending regular therapy and things seem to have gotten worse. I want to share my story to help someone else who has been in this situation, or who may possibly face it at some point in his or her life. Don’t be afraid to report it. Don’t let your assailant get away with it. Report them before they have the chance to do it to someone else.