One in three women in the U.S. military will experience sexual assault while on active duty. That means that the very women who pledge to serve their country have a greater chance of being raped simply by joining the military. Men are not immune to these attacks.
The Guardian shares the stories of two such women and one man who were raped while in service and are sharing their stories now. Their words are a harrowing reminder that rape and victim-blaming are still very well alive in the red, white, and blue.
Kate Weber’s Story: “You’re probably just a little slut.”
Kate Weber was a committed solider who fought for her country in the first Gulf War. After about only three days on base in Germany she was raped by a fellow solider on the fire escape at a club. When she tried to escape after the rape, the rapist pushed her off the building. She fell two stories and woke up naked from the waist down in the dirt.
The next morning Weber went for a run with her female mentor and collapsed from the pain. She confided in the woman about the rape the night before and was met with the following response:
“He would never rape you. He doesn’t even like girls like you, you’re not his type… you’re just a new private. You’re probably just a little slut. You don’t know who you f*cked.”
Weber reported the rape to another female soldier, a female sergeant, a nurse, doctor, and her female sergeant’s boss. All of them rejected her, called her a liar, and said the incident was not a reportable offense. Around the base she was taunted and harassed by her fellow comrades while her rapist walked free.
She said it was the “hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life” and that her “soul was shattered.”
Michelle Jones: “If you tell anyone…I’ll tell them you’re a dyke.”
Michelle Jones was raped after a long day of field exercises at training camp. The soldiers had convened in her bedroom for a barracks party and one solider hung around after everyone else, even after being asked repeatedly to leave.
That man was her squad leader. When she tried to leave her room (because he wouldn’t) he attacked her. He put his hands around her throat from behind and brought her to the ground. While he raped her he held his arm over her chest so she could barely breathe. She tore an abdominal muscle in her side trying to push him off.
When he was done and she tried to run out of the room he said, “If you tell anybody about this I’ll tell them you’re a dyke.”
Jones didn’t want to throw away her career. She was only 17-years-old when she joined.
“The military was my life,” she says, “and when he did that he took away the joy that I found in serving my country, he took away the pride that I had in being myself.”
After the rape Jones contemplated suicide. Now she shares her story so other women can come forward and seek justice. Silence, she says is the biggest accomplice to rape and she will no longer be silent.
Rick Tringale: “Born again hard…That’s what I became.”
Rick Tringale was raped one night by members of his very own squad during his first few weeks of training. The men attacked him in the middle of the night while he was sleeping. They beat, tortured, and raped him until he blacked out.
When he finally came to and tried to escape, the beating started anew until he blacked out for a second time, thinking he would die and never wake again.
After the rape Tringale said he was, “Born again hard.”
“They want you to be a killer. I’m their killer. That’s what I became.”
To see the videos of each soldier’s story go to The Guardian.
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Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the U.S. Military