I solemnly affirm that the evidence that I shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth under pains and penalties of perjury. This is an account of the crime committed on November 16th, 2013 and the events surrounding it. The following testimony is graphic, and may not be suitable for all audiences.
Exactly three years ago today I was raped and tortured by an active member of the United States Military. He was someone I had attended High School with, and I believed him to be my friend.
This date will always be a date I remember. A date that I remember as not the day I became a victim, but as the day I became a survivor. And today, on the anniversary, I hope to become a strong voice for survivors everywhere.
It all began when he invited me to be his date to the annual ball being hosted by Fort Bragg, his military base in North Carolina. The invitation included airfare from Boston, where I was attending college.
Upon arriving at his friend, and Commanding Officer’s house he started trying to kiss me. I dodged his kisses while making it clear that I would not kiss him with a wad of chewing tobacco in this mouth. He violently wrestled with me for upward of twenty minutes trying to forcefully kiss me. I yelled for him to stop- I pushed him away- I covered my mouth just to have my hands ripped away- I yelled to his friend for help who was laughing in the kitchen- and after I lost the strength to fight he pressed his lips against mine and then tried to shove his tobacco-flavored tongue into my mouth.
This should have been my first red flag to run. But I stayed, because despite having just been sexually assaulted I still believed him to be my friend. He didn’t actually want to hurt me- right?
That night at the ball a Major, or a Colonel, or one of those upper ranked Military people got up and gave an announcement. He said that no one was getting their I.D’s checked, and that if you were under 21 to use your best judgment. I was 20 at the time, and got way too drunk. That night I had very, very, very drunk consensual sex with the man who later raped me. Without the alcohol blurring my judgment I would have never had sex with him. And I instantly regretted this decision the next day.
Side note- shouldn’t the Military be liable for knowingly providing alcohol to minors?
When later discussing this moment with my appointed lawyer, he had this to say: Because I had previously said “yes” to sex before I was raped, it was hard to make a case that I then said “no”. But the truth is, saying “yes” once, is not saying “yes”
indefinitely. This is called “victim shaming,” my military appointed lawyer was trying to make me feel partially responsible for what had happened to me.
Getting back to the account, the next day we went to his Military bunker to hang out and watch movies before he had to take me back to the airport- he had a private room.
About half way through a Jake Gyllenhaal movie he ripped my pants off, jumped on top of me and raped me. He held down my arms as he slammed himself inside of me. I asked him to stop. I asked him to stop again. I tried to pull back from the pain but I was up against a wall and his grip was strong.
It all happened so fast. But the nightmare wasn’t over. He grabbed my forearm and bit into it, his teeth digging deeper and deeper into my flesh. “Do you think I could draw blood?” he asked me, coming up for air.
Then he snatched a pair of pliers sitting on his desk and used them to grab a piece of my upper-arm. He pulled and twisted my skin, his intent I’m sure to watch me squeal in pain. But I was too shocked by what was happening that I didn’t scream I didn’t make a sound.
He then threw me on the cold hard laminated floor, sat on top of me holding down my arms with his legs, and put both his hands tightly around my neck. He had been on the wrestling team in High School, was almost a foot taller than me, and had at least 70 pounds on me- I didn’t stand a chance. “I could easily kill you right now,” he whispered to me. “I could do it in a way that wouldn’t leave bruises on your neck- I’m a trained killer.”
His hands around my neck continued to tighten. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. He was looking me right in the eyes and I was looking right back at him as my vision started to go.
Then he stopped. Something must have clicked in his brain. He just got off of me and ran out of the room.
I put my clothes back on, gathered all of my things, and walked out of the room. I could hear him yelling from inside the room across the hall- his commanding officers room. I could hear him yelling, “She’s a crazy bitch!” “She’s a crazy bitch!”
I knocked on the door. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but I did. The screaming behind the door went silent. I knocked again, useless. I grabbed my suitcase and left the barracks headed for the airport. The closest airport was seven miles away. I walked for about three miles before it started downpouring. Then I walked another two miles before a woman stopped and offered me a ride. Plenty of men drove by offering me rides, but there was no way in hell I was getting inside any of those cars.
I flew to Boston and the next day called my friend over to tell him the story. I did not tell him I was raped. I was too embarrassed. “We have to go to the police right now,” he said.
We walked to the nearest police station- the officer told us that because it happened on a military base it was outside of his jurisdiction, but that I should go to the hospital.
On November 18th I checked into Massachusetts General Hospital and had my wounds examined. “Patient status: friend assaulted her yesterday…pain, bruising, and abrasions… human bite to left forearm.”
My friend in Boston, who I had told the majority of the story to, excluding my rape, accompanied me to the hospital. The whole time we were there he was on the phone with Fort Bragg trying to report the crime. The woman who answered the phone said she had no record of this person being at Fort Bragg. She said she could not help us, could not transfer us, could not tell us how to report the crime, and hung up on us several times. She was running us in circles, and I had NO idea how the military worked, the ranking system or their powers. Thankfully my friend did, he had attended a military High School and therefore knew she was being intentionally difficult and unhelpful with us. He threatened to report her, took down her name, rank, and information. Finally we got somewhere.
Because it was a crime that happened on a military base, I had to testify at a military establishment. Over the next week I went to two separate military locations and wrote down my account of the incident twice. I had to expose my body many times to strangers in order for all of my injuries to be documented by each individual. I was also having to leave class to take phone calls from my appointed lawyer who kept telling me I had no case, and all the while still trying to finish out my semester at school.
I couldn’t be around people. I felt scared when a stranger brushed up against my arm, I didn’t want to be hugged, and I didn’t want to be touched. I had to leave school and finish my semester from home and no one knew why. I was at home for Thanksgiving in Oregon that year, and no one knew why. I was paranoid, became easily upset and was overly protective, and no one knew why. I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
How The Event Continues to Change My Life- And What We All Need To Be Doing
My case never went to court. The military protected my rapist and dropped the case. I’ve only ever told a handful of people about the incident. And I’ve told even less about the part when I was raped. But I’m not the only Fort Bragg victim.
Fort Bragg, I later found out, has a bad reputation for sexual assault and rape crimes. Last year, about 20,000 active-duty service members reported that they
had been sexually assaulted, according to a survey conducted by the National Defense Research Institute. In 2012, Fort Bragg received 60 reports of rape. The year I was raped, the reported number increased to 72. I also found out that the majority of rapes that occurred at Fort Bragg ended in death. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to walk away with my life. But the victims aren’t just women. Approximately 1 to 2 percent of all enlisted military men report some sort of sexual assault.
But these rapists are getting away with it. According to an article by
CNN published in 2012, a rapist in the U.S military has an estimated 86.5% chance of keeping their crime a secret, and a 92% chance of avoiding a court- martial. Rape, and sexual assault crimes are embarrassing and intensely personal, that’s why only 344 out of every 1,000 are reported.
As a society, we need to start reporting sexual assault and rape crimes. Because when crimes go unreported, we put our entire community at risk. That’s why I’ve shared my story. Because I know that people are still friends with him, and I know that people all around the world are still friends with sexual assault and rape criminals.
People too often want to look the other way when the crime doesn’t immediately involve them. I had a very close friend who knew my full story run into my rapist at a party. Instead of saying, or doing anything he continued to hang out with him for the entire getaway weekend.
When I confronted my friend on this issue, telling him that by not informing people at the party he was putting other women at risk, he started yelling at me. “You’re outrageous… you’re something else… no wonder you don’t have any friends…there was nothing to stand up for…you’re so dramatic, you should write a drama… sorry I didn’t stand up for your honor…you’re so delusional.” He continued to call me selfish, but the real selfish person is the one who decides a good party is more important than defending a friend, or standing up to a criminal. He didn’t want to ruin the party by bringing up the truth behind one of the attendants.
This is the kind of community shunning I have experienced since the incident occurred. People aren’t willing to stand up for something that didn’t happen to them, no matter how horrific or true. When we don’t hold people accountable for their actions, and we silently ignore their crimes, we are sending the message that we don’t think they did anything wrong. I can appreciate it’s much easier to not get involved. To silently watch in the hopes that someone else will say and do the hard things for you. But Elie Wiesel once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
According to a new analysis by RAINN (the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization) of Justice Department Data, only three out of every 100 rapists will ever spend a day in prison. The other 97 will walk free, facing no consequences for the violent felony they have committed.
People think to themselves, but he’s my friend and I know him better than that. Well I thought the same thing- until he raped and tortured me. According to RAINN, 43% (the highest percentage) of rapes are committed by a friend or acquaintance.
The truth is, a woman’s chance of being raped in the United States is 1 in 5. And the percentage of rapes that studies find to be false claims is between 2-8%. So there are a lot of women being sexually assaulted and raped, and not nearly enough men going to prison for it.
For a long time it was difficult for me to move on. But I have decided that I won’t let my rapist define the rest of my life. I will not let him make me feel like less of a person, I will not let him make me feel weak, I will not be ashamed, I will not cower, I am not damaged goods. Some people may try to shame me for telling my story. And to those people, try for an instant to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has been sexually assaulted or raped. Close your eyes and imagine what it’s like to have someone force themselves inside of you. Imagine it happening to your daughter, your aunt, your mother, your friend, or your neighbor. This is reality. Remember, 1 in 5 women are raped.
We need to stop being victims. I don’t mean that we have control over stopping an assault or rape, because we absolutely don’t. But after an attack we have a choice, and it’s not an easy choice. Instead of feeling like there was some way we could have stopped it, or something we could have done better, we need to turn our attention toward seeking justice.
It’s hard to talk about- I know; it’s embarrassing- I get that. A day does not go by that I don’t think about the man who wronged me. But they want to silence us, if no crimes ever get reported the same men can continue to go around assaulting other women. We are not alone. We have the power to let our voices be heard, and if we all speak out together our voices are stronger. We will find strength in other survivors and work hard to make this country safe for the women of today and the women of the future.
If you have ever been sexually assaulted or raped you are not a victim, you are a survivor and you cannot be silenced.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673)
You can also make a difference by donating money to https://donate.rainn.org/
*I would like to give special thanks to the following people…
Timothy Main- You were the first person to listen to my story. You took me to all the places I needed to go. You had the difficult conversations for me when I was stuck, and did everything you could to help me seek justice. For that, you will forever have my gratitude and deepest love.
Sergeant Miller- You were working at a recruitment center in Boston when I walked in to give my testimony. You were the first person in the Military to offer me your help, and I would have never gotten as far as I did without your support. Your daughter should be very proud to have you as her father.
The Teachers and Administration at Emerson College- You allowed me to finish my semester at home where I felt safe. You enabled me to continue with school while I dealt with an extremely hard situation. Thank you for being compassionate.