Posts Tagged ‘male rape survivor’

today…

December 25, 2013

December 25, 2013

I have come this day to say that many strides have come the way of Military Sexual Trauma awareness, more than we’ve seen-ever!

The news-President Obama-Senator Gillibrand-all have spoken the words out loud. This is more than ever.

 

We still have-countless many who over the years have suffered in silence not believing anyone would ever understand, or care. One week ago a 70 year old veteran telephoned me and told me he too was assaulted during active duty.

Often-still-despite that I stopped writing many moons ago….still a veteran contacts me-wanting to know how to find sincere help, away from the VA….you see-when one is attacked in the disgusting manner that MST victims are, in our ranks-among our peers, and no justice is offered. Trust of everything-goes away.

So often I hear the distrust of the VA clinics – it does not matter what part of the USA they respond from, the fact that many of us are afraid of the VA!

 

1969.

That is when I became a victim.

I have kept away from this blog for a long time now-since last April; my words were met with attack from a person related to this history of mine. A person who discredits me-yet knows what I am saying is truth.

I still cannot read those words-spew of some kind of hate.

 

Every veteran of MST that contacts me-those seeking advice as how to achieve some sort of justice from all of this MST mess….the very first piece of advice I give is “never embellish the truth” and that “nothing but the truth is solid”. I know no one would lie about the circumstances of being raped, but was advised one time by a veterans advocate from an on-line ‘group’ called VETWOW to attend my case hearing with the VA judge as disheveled and unkempt as I could appear; to sleep in my clothes to seem disoriented.

I was so offended by the very idea that I would lie….about this?

THIS….has been ALL of my life since. I am not a ‘survivor’ but a result!

My story has never changed, it has been as accurate as it is in fact-true.

I was an innocent kid of 18 who volunteered during the Viet Nam War to serve my country and defend our Constitution….most do not know-I enlisted at age 17 into the USNR program, and received an ‘honorable discharge’ from that period from April 1969 until I took an oath enlisting in active duty in Baltimore in August 1969, days after my 18th birthday.

I went through boot camp happier than my life had been the past months at home; the death of my baby brother being part-my own teenage inability to manage control-another part.

I had gladly signed up to be with my older brother-who I thought I looked up to, and discovered my mistake a few months later.

 

Christmas….to me-now….crixmix, was a special fairy tale time in our home. My mother made crafts on every season, crixmix was no exception. There was no doubt as little boy-I was thrilled each time this day rolled around.

In my youth we would travel to Washington DC to visit my grandparents; we’d tour the city to see the lights; we’d go to Woodward and Lothrop to see the fantastic windows….and if it snowed-we made angels in the drifts.

On ship was my first time being an adult and away from home.

 

I do not desire to tell it – this anymore. Then I attempted to do something a little risky, which turned out to be riskier than imagined.

I did not-as accused-go AWOL. Technically yes-legally no. I had a liberty pass in my wallet for the weekend-new years weekend-and yet was accused of AWOL.

The VA Judge exonerated me-because-in fact-I was able to prove that.

I was accused of drugs….which after duress from the actions of my own brother upon return to ship-I admitted.

The paperwork from that date written by the USN Master at Arms on ship clearly shows a coffesion from someone who had no idea of what he was talking about…me-and the drugs I admitted to were sniffing glue or drinking nutmeg; it is on my paperwork-the silliest wording written. But true-I did tell them that I used drugs to escape the present situation I was in.

I never expected in a million years I would end up in the brig.

I was just a kid.

 

I entered the brig at somewhere around 8 p/m December 30 1969.

I’ve never been the same since.

 

I have been told I have no relationship with God.

I am glad I never utter those words to a person….the one who uttered those words to me apparently believes they have some private ‘in’ with the Lord to be my judge…enough to say I have no relationship with God. I would never presume to think I am able to make that statement without guilt, as-for ALL have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.

 

I am never returning to this blog after today. I have meant to stay away months ago; now I need to say this to every man and woman out there who willingly served their country only to become a victim of this violent crime-rape.

Today is the time to report it! Today is the time to release yourself of the secret and from the damage that MST has done to you over time.

Your voice is being heard-louder now. There is more attention to the facts….MST is real.

I am still active in keeping the awareness going in my home area, still speaking out against the VA and teaching others about MST. I sit on a board of several others appointed by our County Commission – the Alachua County (FLORIDA) Rape and Sexual Assault Advisory Board.

It has been tough to talk out loud about the plight of MST veterans, until recently-now the news is focused and our President has spoken-now there are those who hear me. I AM still active. I am just-done here-in this blog.

I had written before-I have said everything about me-here…and welcome written items from other MST vets, to be published here. Your words have meaning!

Your voice is needed to build the facts!

Please-seek help and advice how to speak out-determine your needs-and be free from the silence!

Peace

MST survivors-front and center

April 25, 2010

American flags
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

 

May 10-11,2010 may not be the exact venue to stand up for MST survivors! That will not matter-what will matter is-there will be a voice! I will be there in Washington DC to stand up for all survivors!

If I can carry your message to Congress:

MST /9950 NE 132 Terrace/Williston FL 32696

or jayfherron@yahoo.com

It has a name! MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA…MST

Even if a lone banner stood out-a garden begins with one seed!

I know I am not alone-and I know there are many,who like me,thought that they were the only one. I still can’t imagine it at all to where it could make any sense. I lived for 35 years before any attention came to the fact that I was raped while in the US Military. I had reported the rape the day it happened-but because my attack happened in a detention barracks it was shrugged off. I kept it to myself since.

Detention barracks? Yes…I was trying to get home for a holiday and was caught in a snow storm. I was unable to get back to ship for roll call,my bus was stuck at a terminal. That was my crime!

My post traumatic disorder of a life came to the care of a therapist at the VA hospital in nearby Gainesville,Florida. During that care I was told that I should find a sense of validation and appeal for disability benefits.

I reported my case to a Veterans Service Officer ( VSO ) in my home county (as is the way the process is to run in order) explaining to a man I had never seen before in my life-someone who is to be trusted as my advocate-how it was that I was raped and repeatedly abused for nearly two months.

The VSO nodded his head in disbelief-his comment after hearing my story was: “Gee…you’d never think homosexuals have a need to rape each other”! and he seemed to think this was something that only black men do – to rape young whites in a detention center. My attackers were white men.

I am angry at the ignorance of this man-his comments made the crime of rape sound like a sexual encounter…one I must have enjoyed-although it did not seem so at the time. Rape is not a sexual encounter. Rape is not anything of any kind of pleasure. Explain where getting socked with closed fists is pleasure-or having someone wrestle your legs with force…pleasure?

This kind of ignorance is everywhere-the way the appeal procedure is organized for the veteran to appeal for disability benefits. The veteran must apply for his or her claim in most cases an office staffed by those experienced in combat related or natural related injury. In most cases-there is no training regarding the sensitive issue of rape…no one wants to accept that it happened anyway!

The appeal process is carried to the Veterans Administration by the VFW or AMVets…again,someone who has no experience dealing with the sensitive issues of rape! The veteran is required to be sponsored by one of these organizations…perhaps the greatest for legitimate veterans-but those like me do not share that same honor. I’ve never felt right about any of my military service since the rapes-my life completely changed forever. I had begun my Navy life with the desire for a career-those dreams were shattered.

I am going to Washington DC! Whatever it is I have to do to draw attention to the poster I will carry-I will do. My poster will be the banner…

MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA survivors ARE VETERANS TOO!

The lobbying events scheduled for May 10-11 are centered around ‘Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell’…I am going there despite that our issue is not company with that-I AM going because our issue is one of grave consequences on the effects of the suffering of an MST veteran.

We NEED to raise awareness…I will attend these two days in Washington DC to stand up for MST survivors!

If you have a message to Congress regarding MST and the Veterans Administration’s treatment of MST veterans-the disability claim process…a statement about MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA that you want hand delivered-send it to me and I WILL deliver!

peace

“here comes your sister”-or…40 years today

February 22, 2010

jo eileens hearse
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

 

I was told in a recent email that I need to quit living and dwelling on the past!
Something about giving it up to Jesus and all would be gone away!

I was a wee tyke when Aunt Peg said the words to me…”here comes your sister”. We we’re sitting on the stoop at my grandparents house in Pottstown (PA) waiting for JoEileen.

The thing that imprinted me the most was the hearse that carried her casket-it was a Coupe Le flora (and I may have the spelling incorrect). A hearse designed to carry the casket in the open air-draped with the flowers.

They drove by very slowly-you know I can see it in my minds eye exactly. I must have been no older than 7. I have never gotten the sight of that hearse out of my head.

I recollect so much from that time. It is always vivid-I hope always to know it in my memory. I sit at my desk and my sister smiles at me from a photograph-my grandmother Wickie is there too. I love them-and I guess you could say that I dwell on them too. They have been dead for a long long time.

Forty years ago today I was made to rise earlier than usual. There were five others-we were all marched around various buildings around barracks D signing papers and the last building was a warehouse of civilian clothes-all in piles. Piles of pants-and piles of shirts. The only thing we kept were the shoes we wore. We dropped our blue jean uniforms into the other piles and selected civilian clothes from the civilian piles and changed.

It was just daylight when we were marched to the entrance of the base and handed our discharges and final pay. I remember taking my shoes off and leaving them-walking off in stocking feet. I can nearly clearly remember in my minds eye that moment 40 years ago. On the opposite corner was a place that hooked sailors in with offers of credit and the best of civilian clothes-and on the corner across from that was a place that sold shoes-I finished my civilian dress with a pair. Beatle boots-I can never forget them,the most useless shoe I ever wore.

I can look out the bedroom window-just this very moment-at 4604 Bel Pre Road. Vividly I can see my brothers out on the lawn playing. Carl was not even six-just barely. I see the green Chrysler New Yorker and the guy driving it-his black go-tee beard on his face and yet he was turned looking behind his car through the window at a house for sale. He and his wife never saw Carl run out in front of the car. Only me-only our brother Joey-and only the little girl with Down syndrome from across the street.

I remember it vividly-the memory  will never go away…the red jacket my mother had his small body dressed in-or how the people at funeral home treated us with such kindness. I’ll never forget following behind the hearse on the long drive to Pottstown. I will never forget that.

The remarkable date of 40 years is easy to keep track of. 14,600 days ago.

The violence of the dreams that are continual parts of my life since barracks D help me keep track.

The moment I wake in the morning time-I think of the place and the memory of it seems to always be waiting for me…somewhere. I rise up and the trip to the toilet is my next reminder-and then the shower my next…40 years,the memory cannot evade me. The damage is too intense-just as the dreams and just as the shadow  of  barracks D the physical damage is a daily reminder too. Don’t dwell on it, you say? As the toilet paper disappears up my ass….don’t dwell on it? As it takes extra care to wash when finally in the shower…don’t dwell on it? You explain how not too!

Jesus Christ did not die for nothing-He died for my sins,so I am taught to know. But , being raped was not my sin. Spending nearly two months in the presence of my attackers-being abused all that time…never changed,and never ended. And never has been my sin-only my torment.

vacation…

October 20, 2008

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

 

I am stuck.
That is about as plain as I can put it.
My mind is there-along with my body,but there is the drag of depression (lingering) and a sense of defeat because of the above.
Mostly-I want to pack it back into bed and darken the daylight with my covers pulled over my head. I would honestly like to lay down and float off into eternity.
Well….what is it that makes this happen? If I knew-I would not go there again,but the mystery of it all keeps to itself.
There is no understanding it. I do not know why things are not normal-although I know how they must have come to be this way.
Actually,I’m not sure if it can be prevented from happening-as if it comes on like someone catching a cold.
But-I believe it is inescapable,because I cannot get away from my past-and from what happened,and from how that changed me…at least,I suppose it was change-it has been so long a part of me I cannot remember who I really might have been.

I write this on line journal because I need to tell it-I need to speak out and say the things that no one wanted to hear…no one in my family-and the silence of it all has taken its time eating away at me adding to the damage that is called my life.

I am a male…and although the term confuses me-I am a survivor of rape. It was not a one time thing-it is has been a life time thing. It is there each day as daylight comes and I wake up to my surroundings and remember everything that happened. It is a lot to remember because it has not ever ended-never gone away,I never got used to it as the officer I reported it to said to do…”get used to it”!

It is not bad enough to just wake up and the inventory is still alive in my head…moments ago I came in and sat in front of my computer-coming in from my bathroom,from doing something so simply a part of life and daily routine as going to the toilet….and the fact,not a memory,the fact of the damage to my body expresses itself. I am continually reminded of the events of my rape-and the continuing assaults that I lived with afterwards….for 38 years. Not too long from now I will shower…part three of the chore that is the rest of my life as it has been all of my life-to be reminded again. Every day. They are not polite memories-nor vague or distant (even if they are that old) they are permanent like an ugly tattoo. The showering part I believe is the worse of the three.

You see…it is right here that I am stuck. I’m wanting to say things about improvement and healing and changes for the better,and then…blam! I cannot tell you something that is not so-as if,healing is for others-and things will change,when you are validated you will see-you will feel better. The most I can say is getting back in bed and hiding under the covers is what I want to do.

I will say-it is difficult to live everyday with two lives. The one that people think you have-and the one that you have.

the cover up

August 8, 2008

an apartment-no view
Originally uploaded by jayfherron
 
 
 
 

 

The excerpt that follows is from an article that appears entirely in connecting with the link:

 

www.truthout.org/article/sexual-assault-military-a-dod-coverup

www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080801-sexual-assault-in-the-military

 

(attached at the bottom of the page is the FULL article)

 

The excerpt in its own strength says legions….
” There was quite a struggle in Congress this week. The Department of Defense refused to allow the senior civilian in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to testify in Thursday’s hearing on sexual assault in the military. Rep. John Tierney, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, angrily dismissed Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michael Dominguez from the hearing when Dominguez said that he, the DoD chief of legislative affairs and the chief of public affairs, had ordered Dr. Kaye Whitley, chief of SAPRO, to refuse to honor the subpoena issued by the subcommittee for her appearance. ”

Hmmm,it is such a struggle.
I never imagined the events in my life 38 years ago would bring me to what I am doing today. I’ve often said that I wished I’d never brought it up….I answered a question in a VA clinic about depression,that is where I went wrong,I said “yes-I do get depressed” and the response was a bottle of some sort of anti-depressant.
I tried the pills-but they made me so hopped up and un-natural that I dumped them in the john.
It made me mad-it was stupid-I had so often in my life drank to drunk blindness and sucked up enough drugs in my nose my sinuses are as smooth as ice (so a surgeon told me when he removed a polyp)…he said ‘surgical smooth’.
And the response from the VA is a bottle of pills?
I became upset. I do that to myself-things eat at me and eat at me until they seem to explode,so I wrote the VA a letter.
It wasn’t right away-actually,I got called in to a clinic just to talk about the med’s and that’s when I told them about dumping them in the toilet…shit hit the fan then and I was sent to a ‘shrink’ who literally asked me the two most asked questions…”are you planning to hurt yourself?” and “are you planning to hurt someone?”. That was about it and after a small lecture on the way these pills work I was sent to get more.
It was after I dumped them that I wrote the letter.
I don’t really recall exactly how I worded it-but it just angered me so bad that I went through countless trials to clean myself of self abuse with alcohol or drugging…and the whole time to forget and try to feel better about what happened in barrack D. That never happened,you’d just wake up and feel like crap from the hangovers-the memory was there as quick as waking up.
It was insulting.
It was just like saying there are certain kinds of sober and certain kinds of drugs-and that certain drugs are an answer.
I had long learned they weren’t.

I don’t know what or how to say anything about it. My way of remembering New Years Eve is only capable of seeing barrack D over and over again,that is all the ‘holiday’ is to me-a marker!
My rapes happened to begin the very early hours of that last day in 1969. They continued most every day from then-and after nearly two months of the assaults being a primary part of my time there…I was given an Honorable Discharge.

I had no choices any more. The very first person to see me that morning (a Navy intelligence officer) asked why I was wet with urine and so beaten up-and he chuckled when I told him and said “get used to it”.
I have never gotten used to it-I could live around it,but never away from it.
The main three guys who attacked me knew they owned me when I returned to barrack D and they weren’t called out.
No…I never got used to it-and never talked about it until the VA got my letter and after a two month wait I began seeing Charlotte-a therapist at the VA who specializes in ‘military sexual trauma’.
I believe Charlotte is the first and only person who has heard my story and believed.

It was when it was suggested that I seek compensation-a sort of validation…compensation will not change anything either,but I accepted the idea that I should be heard and that will validate my life.
What I heard was an ignorant bigot who was the main ‘veterans advocate’ who was to lead me down a path to an apology of some sorts-validation.
Comments about why homosexuals would need to rape each other…this was a statement the man made to me-and his eyebrows raised in question as why I did not agree the attackers were black.
The sense of surprise from the ‘advocate’ should have told me this man could not understand anything about this crime. He felt the ‘sexual’ in the words ‘sexual assault’ meant something…sexual.

This whole thing about sex in our society-such a troubled subject because the side of society that has never experienced what it feels like to have one or several take you bodily and beat your face with their fists and yank your clothing from your body while you are still having one or several beating on you-and to feel that piercing pain of having your arm twisted up behind you to make you easily pliable to manipulate added with the pain and confusion going through your rectum…I do not recall any sexual pleasure. I’m not sure if I truly understand what ‘sexual pleasure’ is-the event distorted my life so much!…the side that has never felt our side cannot fully see how terrible this crime really is-how far the damage actually reaches.

When the Congress is lied to by the Department of Defense about these issues-the battle seems even harder. It makes me wonder…what have I gotten into? Why could it not of ended then-in 1969-70? Why has it started going in this direction?

I’ve been told that the more I write about this the more my paperwork for the appeal for compensation will be moved aside to the back of the stack.
So what??….there is no compensation that will relieve any of the pain I carry from those days-the ‘every days’….that issue does not matter,but it does in the sense that it will provide hope for others that should come forward-and seek these damages from the military
The more we come out in numbers the more the military is forced to confront this issue…the more we hold them accountable that this crime finds no justice as long as they continue to ignore it.
It has nothing to do with me…it is the rest of the survivors (an odd description-yes,I made it this far,but survived?) who have not found a Charlotte and yet is as equally as any wounded soldier…these veterans deserve as much help as any other-and compensation, and respect for that like any military person they entered to serve this country-with honor. Not dis-honor brought on by the hands of those they serve with.

The ‘silent wounded’.

HERE IS THE ARTICLE-written by Col.Ann Wright  8-01-2008

There was quite a struggle in Congress this week. The Department of Defense refused to allow the senior civilian in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to testify in Thursday’s hearing on sexual assault in the military. Rep. John Tierney, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, angrily dismissed Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michael Dominguez from the hearing when Dominguez said that he, the DoD chief of legislative affairs and the chief of public affairs, had ordered Dr. Kaye Whitley, chief of SAPRO, to refuse to honor the subpoena issued by the subcommittee for her appearance.

    Full committee Chairman Henry Waxman called the DoD’s decision to prevent Whitley from testifying “ridiculous and indicating DoD is covering something up.” It could also place Whitley in contempt of Congress. Rep. Christopher Shays said the DoD’s decision was “foolish.”

    One of the questions that would have been put to Whitley was why DoD had taken three years to name a 15-person civilian task force to look into allegations of sexual assault of military personnel. The panel was finally named early in 2008 but has yet to meet. She would have also been queried on the SAPRO program’s failure to require key information from the military in order to evaluate the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention and response programs.

    I spoke with Dr. Whitley in April 2007 and had asked for an appointment to bring to her office four military women who had been sexually assaulted and wanted to tell her in what ways the DoD programs to prevent sexual assault were not working. Whitley declined, saying she worked at the policy level, and steered me to the chief of the Army sexual assault program. I called the Army program’s chief, who initially said she would talk to our group. However, when I mentioned that the mother of Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, who had been raped in Iraq, would be with us, she said she could not meet with anyone involved with an ongoing case. I replied that Swift’s case was closed as far as the Army was concerned. Her rapist had not been prosecuted, and Swift ended up with a court-martial and 30 days of jail time because she had gone AWOL for her own protection when the Army would not move her out of the unit to which both she and her rapist were still assigned. In view of the fact that the Army chief of prevention of sexual assault refused to meet with any of the four women who had suggestions on how to improve prevention and reporting of sexual assault and rape, I’m not surprised that the DoD snubbed Congress over the same issue.

    Rep. Elijah Cummings joined Rep. Waxman in speaking of cover-ups. Cummings raised the cases of military women who had been sexually assaulted before dying in “non-combat incidents.” He spoke specifically about Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson, who was found beaten and dead of a gunshot wound at Balad Air Base, Iraq, in a burning tent owned by the contractor KBR. Her parents suspected that Johnson had been murdered and that the homicide was being covered up by the Army, which deemed the death a suicide. Cummings also spoke of Army Pfc. Tina Priest, who was raped at Taji, Iraq, and found dead 10 days later of a gunshot wound. After her family had measurements taken of her arms and of the angle of the bullet and found that she could not have pulled the trigger of her M-16 with her finger, the Army said she had pulled the trigger by using her toe. Cummings asked Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, chief of U.S. Army personnel, for assistance in getting all the documents the Army had on Johnson’s death. Additionally, four House members have asked for congressional hearings on the deaths of military personnel who have been classified as suicides, among them LaVena Johnson.

    The fireworks with DoD followed the dramatic testimony of Mary Lauterbach, the mother of murdered pregnant Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who had been raped in May 2007 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Accused in the case is Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean. After the rape, several protective orders were issued to keep Laurean away from his victim. The burned body of Lauterbach and her unborn baby were found in a shallow grave in the backyard of Laurean’s home in January 2008. Laurean fled to Mexico, where he was subsequently apprehended, and he now is awaiting extradition to the United States to stand trial. Lauterbach’s mother explained in great detail the warning signs that Laurean was a danger to her daughter and claimed that all these signs were ignored by the Marine Corps.

    Two other military women have been murdered near military bases in North Carolina in the past two months.

    Red Cross employee Ingrid Torres told the subcommittee of being raped at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea by an Air Force flight doctor. She spoke of the difficulty she had obtaining medical and emotional treatment from the facility where the doctor still worked, and later from military facilities in other parts of the world where she was assigned.

    Rep. Jane Harman cited Veterans Administration statistics that one in three women in the military has been sexually assaulted. She said the prosecution rate of those accused of raping fellow military service members is abysmally low. Of the 2,212 reported rapes in the military in 2007, only 8 percent of the cases ended in court-martial of the perpetrator, while the rate of prosecution in civilian courts is 40 percent.

    Lt. Gen. Rochelle, the Army chief of personnel, reported the little known statistic that 12 percent of reported rapes in the military are of male military personnel.

    Rep. Shays said he had no confidence in DoD or the military services and their policies of prevention of sexual assault, and asked how recruiting will fare when young women learn that one in three women is sexually assaulted and when young men find out that one in 10 men is raped while in the military.

    Brenda Farrell, director of the Government Accountability Office, said that getting data on rape from the military services is difficult because there are no common definitions of terms for the services to use in such cases.

    Farrell said the GAO believes rates of sexual assault currently used by DoD are low because many military personnel do not want to report what happened and suffer the gossip, harassment and stigma prevalent in units when confidential reporting is compromised. In a survey of 3,757 persons on 14 military installations, 103 said they had been sexually assaulted in the past year and had reported it, while 52 others said they did not report the sexual assault.

    Several Congress members spoke of lack of leadership and accountability in stopping sexual assault. The same day as the sexual assault hearing, the Navy relieved two senior officers of the USS George Washington because of the injury to 23 sailors and $70 million in damage to the ship caused by a smoking violation. Imagine if commanders in units where rape occurred were relieved of command for the harmful actions of their subordinates. That would send a signal of zero tolerance of sexual assault, whereas in the current climate victims are intimidated and alleged perpetrators are given administrative punishment instead of court-martial.

    Sexual violence against both female and male military personnel must stop. Let Congress know of your concern about sexual assault in our military. Call or e-mail members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees and members of the Oversight and Government Reform committees.

    ——–

    Ann Wright is a retired Army Reserve colonel and a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves. She was also a diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the Department of State on March 19, 2003, in opposition to the Iraq war. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience” (www.voicesofconscience.com).

    Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who reported being raped in May 2007, was found dead, along with her unborn child, in January 2008 in the backyard of the suspect in the case.

April-National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 22, 2008

farm-john campbell school,brasstown NC

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

My own mental clock had almost ran through the month of April. Until yesterday I had not been paying too much attention to the calender and then realized it was almost the end of the month.

Being a survivor of rape and sexual assault is an isolated place to live.
No one but another survivor can understand the meaning of what I am saying.

As people we are all different. We have different backgrounds and up bringing and some of us come from families who are rich and others from families that struggle to live month by month. Sexual abuse has no regions nor age groups-nor does it separate from where you come from. It does not have a gender….it has to do with control. The control of someone over you.

Every one of us has an extraordinary life. There are none of us alike-we only have similar experiences,yet those vary.
I lived a life that I know has been different.

Actually-it is a bit ironic that I can’t exactly tell you what it has been like being a survivor. I never felt like a survivor.
I lived a life closeted away from what others knew. In private I carried the guilt and shame that came along with the assaults. Due to the nature what was taking place….I was a young sailor in the USN and by twists of fate I got stuck in a snow storm and became AWOL. I ended up in a detention barracks-barracks D.
The long of the story is written in all these inserts-but the long of the story is also that every day of my life I awake to the memory of what happened.
The guilt and shame are contrasted of that the rapes were not a part of what my father or mother ever knew-they only knew that I had gotten in trouble and was being kicked out of the Navy.

I kept my secret-and battled it. The damage of having to preform every day the way I was forced too back in barracks D had some kind of effect on me. After the discharge and after being free of the barracks-I found myself seeking to be treated the way I was back then. I found myself putting myself into situations that were certain to cause me harm. I called those times ‘damage control’,except-I damaged myself and had no control over it.

I was asked once about how it might be for another-how I feel and how they feel about being sexually assaulted.
I could’nt answer the question-each one of us had different experiences but for most of my life I never figured it happened to others in the way it happened to me.
I learned to understand how harmful it is no matter who-no matter what the scene was.
It is just difficult too explain-not knowing others might be having to go through the same fears I was. Fears of public places…public restrooms-or in crowds of people,such as at a game or a concert. Like standing in a room full of snakes.

I went through most of my adult life not knowing that April was an awareness month-it does cover sexual assault-and domestic abuse. It is rather odd these titles.
Yes,I guess-we have to call it something,but sexual has nothing to do with assault,being domestic has nothing to do with abuse.
The word sexual actually softens the reality….there is nothing sexual about having someone force themselves on you-as in my case,being socked in the face and laid out in a urine trough.
A very interesting thing. The physical part of it was over-but forever the mental part has distorted something inside of me.
The ‘sexual’ contact in my life since became a task-a job…like hard work. Something I had to do,I guess that is because it was something I was forced to do.
How can I explain that?

I can’t explain what it is for others. I only can imagine it must be the same thing.
Many things are disturbed inside of you when this happens.
I lost trust. I lost responsibilty. Soboriety. I could not keep a job. I became divided from my family.
I could not be close to someone.

The things I’ve been writing in this ‘Word Press’ about myself and my life are my way of bringing awareness. I don’t need a certain month to be set aside to do this….I need what seems a lifetime.
I did find things to keep me alive-to survive.
I learned to drive big trucks long distances-that to keep from having to work with others. Yet-I also learned to build high scaffolds,another place where no one is.
I raised two sons-good young men,as a single dad
Through my life things have been an evidence as to what had happened,but no one understood what it was or why I was the way I was. How do explain what through the years had become a calous on my own heart and chaos in my life….my own past to carry  alone in secret.

It was through Charlotte B.,at the VA who helped awaken a part of me and show me some things about what this was….the actions of PTSD.
Through the meetings with her I found the Survivors Art Exhibit…and that opened me up even more.
Also through the meetings with her I was forwarded to a Veterans Advocate to ‘validate’ my experience and hold the military accountable….this ‘advocate’ was so knee deep in bigotry that he re-opened the wound in a way that made me want to scream.
So-I bought this computer and began to learn how to use it and in this I found a way to speak.

My awareness message to anyone….men are victims too.
The title of ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month’ needs to really truly tell the whole story.