The rules in the military are completely different than the laws that must be abided by as a civilian in the United States. And sometimes it’s not required for all active members to play a fair game. Like never before, military women from around the country are speaking up and against the retaliation they face after being sexually assaulted.
In 2014, NBC News conducted an investigation that focused on the harsh consequences women experience when reporting a rape. At times these women are terminated from their active duty positions after the occurrence.
One story highlighted a former member of the California National Guard, Master Sergeant Jessica Brown, who was an airwoman in the 129th Rescue Wing . She like many others are not alone and have been discharged from a service that is cherished and is meritoriously commemorated for being involved in.
Women such as, Jennifer Norris, a technical sergeant from the United States Air Force, shared “I was one of many that had a career ended shortly because I simply reported a sexual assault”.
Norris indicated to Congress that while serving in her career, she was raped four times during 1996 and 1998. When she informed her supervisor , she was faced with a reprisal. She expressed to NBC Bay Area sources ” I went back and was blown away at how much disdain and hatred I faced as a result of standing up for what was right and protecting other women.”
Norris said ” That right in and of itself was the biggest betrayal I ever experienced in my life…. When you have zero support and you are alone, it will push you to the place Jessica Brown has been. I have been there. ”
Sergeant Brown was sexually assaulted during a training mission in 2007 . While speaking with investigation reporters at NBC, she shared her horrific memories of retaliation after reporting her experience in being sexually assaulted. She revealed ” Leadership has been told and they don’t do anything about it — they throw it under the rug.”
While working in any environment or employment agency it is important for all employees to feel safe, while being able to voice concerns. It is important for all corporations to do a thoroughly investigation if a problem does arise in the work place and an employee feels that he or she is being violated in anyway. Unfortunately in the case of Sergeant Jessica Brown, the California National Guard claimed that the alleged investigations were not substantiated.
The conflict was never resolved and did not dissolve. In fact the retaliation that Brown originally faced only got worst after taking a stance. It became so insufferable that Brown attempted to take her life away. While Brown was admitted to the hospital after the attempt, the Guard confirmed her termination and served her discharge papers.
Like Brown, Sergeant Norris also attempted suicide. ” I have ended up in the hospital wanting to die based on how these folks treated me– I wanted to die because I basically feel I got fired for being raped.”
Currently Norris suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the sexual assault that occurred while serving in the military.
Newer recruits are subjected to facing sexual assault during training missions and while serving on their active posts.
More work is being done to end this pandemic in the military. A retired coast guard by the name of Panayiota Bertzikis started an organization called the Military Rape Crisis Center, advocating for survivors of military sexual abuse. Bertzikis started this organization 8 years ago, along with the help of Kate Weber, Jessica Brown, and Jennifer Norris who have all been raped in the military.
Bertzikis reported that there is a lack of support inside the National Guard promoting this organization , yet they see more reports and incidents of sexual assault that occur in the National Guard.
According to the Department of Defense , 26,000 military personnels experienced sexual assault in 2012 and had received 5,400 reports of sexual assault in 2013.
Currently, women in the military as well as men who face sexual assault are protected by an act called Sexual Assault Oversight and Prevention (STOP), which takes the investigation of sexual assaults out of the hands of the military and places jurisdiction elsewhere in an independent entity.