Sexual assaults allegedly committed by high-profile people have made headlines in recent weeks.
They even spawned the “Me too” movement around the world.
Between 2007 and 2016, the Department of Defense collected more than 6,000 reports of sexual assault and sustained harassment.
Three woman allegedly raped by fellow service members
Three women who served our country in the military are coming forward to share their accounts of being raped. All of them joined the military after 9-11.
They were prepared to lay their lives on the line for this country. What they never anticipated was that their careers would be derailed after they say, they were raped.
"I said no like 20 times. And he just didn’t stop," said 'Lily.'
She served in the Marines from 2008 to 2012 and says she was raped by a fellow Marine.
"I was kind of frozen. Not believing that this was happening," she said. "He was a Marine. He was supposed to be my brother."
'Lily' never reported the attack. She said she was afraid it would prevent her from joining her unit on an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
"I blocked it out for years. Five years of my life, I blocked it out," 'Lily' said. "And I’m still dealing with it. It didn’t make it go away."
Danique, who served in the United States Navy from 2002 to 2005, understands that anguish.
"I was repeatedly raped over a several month period by the high level senior enlisted people in my chain of command," she said of the two superiors who frequently called her into their offices, alone.
"It’s blue on blue crime for the Navy. You’re doing this to your own people. This is not an enemy from another country or some faction group. This is somebody that wears the same uniform as me," she said of the betrayal.
"I was threatened directly with my career," Danique remembered. "They would end my career. They would make my life a living hell."
Years later, the pain is still brimming at the surface.
She added, "That disappointment and betrayal stays with you. And it’s hard to overcome. That your leadership failed you and didn’t protect you."
They say rape changed them
One in every four women in uniform has reported being sexually assaulted. One in every 100 men. But the vast majority of cases go unreported.
"I felt ashamed, I felt dirty," said Rachael, who says she was raped twice, by two different men, while serving in the Navy from 2006 to 2009.
"The first one I just froze. I was kind of drunk and I didn’t know what to do. And the second time, I did. I was like you need to stop. And he didn’t," she said. "He raped me."
All three women say rape changed them.
"I’d just like to wake up and be normal and not have to be anxious… to be able to relate to people," said Rachael, wiping tears from her face.
"This is hell. Trying to pretend you’re normal because you don’t want to admit that you have a mental illness," said 'Lily,' who said she has PTSD stemming from the attack. "It shouldn’t be something you have to hide. It shouldn’t be something that’s shameful. It should be just as normal as having a broken wrist, broken hand."
"Trying to get help is not easy," Rachael told us. "They have the mental health clinics at the VA, but you’re sitting there waiting for hours, then you never see the same doctor."
PHOTOS: Women share accounts of being raped in the military
Rachael said she suffered a nervous breakdown after the second rape and ultimately, had to leave the military.
Danique's military career ended too.
"I quit. That’s the resentment I take away," she said, her eyes welling with tears.
"The betrayal caused me to not be able to trust anybody else,' said 'Lily,' who also points to the rape as the primary reason she left the Marine Corps. "You’re supposed to be able to trust them with your lives and I can’t trust them."
When asked why she came forward now, she said, "I’m sick of being silent. I want people to understand that this happens more than people think."
In many cases, it may be too late to report the crimes, but it’s never too late to get help.
The most recent statistics from FY 2016 reveal more than 5,300 service members reported being sexually assaulted. But those numbers don’t reflect the true problem. An estimated 90% of victims never come forward.
If you’ve been victimized and need assistance, click here to report the crime.
Resources for survivors of military sexual assault
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-(800) 273-8255
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1(800) 273-8255
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National network (RAINN): 1-(800)- 656-4673
- Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline: 1 (877)-995-5247
- Alcoholism and Drunk Dependence Helpline: 1(800)- 799-7233
- DC Citywide Sexual Assault Hotline: (202) 333- 7273
- Virginia Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-(800) 838-4758
- Fairfax County Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Hotline: (703) 360-7273
Local & National Organizations/Support Groups
Protect Our Defenders:
POD is the only national 501 (c)(3) organization solely dedicated to ending the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to try combating a culture of pervasive misogyny, sexual harassment, and retribution against victims.
Find information about legal services, local support groups and forums, by click here.
Mailing Address: (DC Office) 110 Maryland Avenue NE Washington, D.C. 20002.
DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office:
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) is responsible for oversight of the Department's sexual assault policy. SAPRO works hand-in-hand with the Services and the civilian community to develop and implement innovative prevention and response programs.
Phone Number: (571) 372-2657
Aha! Moment uses training workshops, outreach events, and community partnerships to raise awareness about the unique mental health issues faced by survivors of trauma. We also support the well-being of the professionals who provide support to survivors. Our goal is to increase the number of survivors that access the wonderful community services that can potentially change their lives, and to help professional supporters maintain their quality of life and avoid burnout. We specialize in the following types of trauma: sexual assault, domestic abuse, incest, stalking, trafficking, bullying, and other types of interpersonal trauma.
Phone Number: 202-812-0008
Created a webpage of several clinical psychologist who specialize in treating female victims of sexual abuse/assault and host physical support groups in Maryland.
Online Support Groups/Forums
The mission of After Silence is to support, empower, validate, and educate survivors of rape, sexual abuse and all types of sexual violence by providing a safe, extensive, reliable and easy-to-read website where victims can find the answers and support they need to heal and reclaim their lives.