I took an Oath to protect the Constitution. Now here are my Constitutional rights. Written by Isabella Francis Mazotti
Ever since I posted Hello SARC do you hear me? and Panayiota’s follow up post Has Anyone Seen the SARC? we been contacted by SARCs many who felt that they been incorrectly portrayed in the blog posts. We welcome all SARCs to speak to us on what they are doing to help survivors of Military Sexual Trauma from being re-victimized, being forced out of service and helping a survivor receive justice. We also inviting MST survivors to share their stories on working with a SARC, was their helpful or did they cause further damage?
We’ll leave you with this from the New York National Guard, a SARC I contacted after I could not reach anyone on their so-called twenty-four hours hotline responded back. The number she gave me to call instead is “no longer in service.”
I tried to talk to call my Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) but….
A. The number was disconnected
B. She never returned my phone call
C. She hung up on me
That is the most common responses from a survivor regarding a SARC that they tried to contact. Being a volunteer with the Military Rape Crisis Center I am starting an investigating on why SARCs are notorious for not returning phone calls. I’ll start with my homestate of Massachusetts. The Military Rape Crisis Center headquarters is located in Massachusetts which only naturally means the majority of the clients seeking in-person services are from the Massachusetts National Guard. I am not calling them just for the sake of calling but I do have a legit reason to talk to them regarding several clients. I do have waivers from all the clients to speak on their behalf about their cases. Right now I am calling on behalf of rape victims in the Massachusetts National Guard.
Here is their homepage
According to their website:
“The SARC position is filled with a full-time service member to ensure 24 hour availability.”
So I am starting this project at exactly 1738 on Friday the 28th of January. See if they really are available 24/7 as they claim to be.
Mrs. Jersouk Touy- JFHQ Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at (508) 233-6834. No Answer.
“Joint Headquarters SARC” said the machine. I did not leave a message
On to the 2nd name on the list:
MSG Sally Taylor from the 51st Troop Command Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
phone number: (508) 233-7905. No answer
Maj. John Martorana from JFHQ HHD
phone number: (508) 233-6834 That the same number as Mrs. Jersouk Touy. Once again I reached the machine.
MAJ Nicole Ivers from the 102nd Fighter Wing at (508) 274-6839. No answer
MAJ Matthew Mutti from the 104th Fighter Wing
(413) 568-9151- Ext 1800 Machine answered: His title that he gave on his voicemail was Executive Officer–the XO is doubling as a SARC?
Okay last person on the list:
1LT Kelly Souza from the 26th Manuever Enhanced Brigade
Her phone number is not listed but having access to the Military Rape Crisis Center rolodex I was able to find her number: She did not answer
It is now 1751 and after five attempts I was not able to reach a live person.
Let me try email
Email to: MAJ Nicole Ivers
Email to MAJ Matthew Mutti. Remember he is also the Executive Officer of the 104th Fighter Wing.
Email to 1LT Kelly Souza
The rest went through.Luckily for us we have worked a lot with the Mass National Guard and we have a whole range of other numbers and emails. Our clients are going to get the help that they need even if the SARC’s hired by the Massachusetts National Guard are not readily accessiable like the website clams that they are. Even though our clients are going to be able to get the help that they need not everyone has access to our rolodex or email list.
Now imagine if I was Active Duty and I was just assaulted. Afraid, angry, and confused. I want to talk to a SARC but where are they? What if I was overseas? I called my SARC and nobody picks up. I send an email and it gets bounce right back to me. A person who may have just experienced the worst trauma in their lives may get fed up and change their mind and not report it or not get help. They want you to report an assault but they do not make it easy. What if you are the parent of a woman that was raped and you want resources for her? Or you can be just someone like me, a service provider trying to speak to a SARC for a client.
The military rape crisis center is available at http://www.stopmilitaryrape.org and their emails won’t be bounced back. We are also available doing regular business hours at 617-381-4795 and return phone calls within 12 hours during non-business hours or if we not in the office. We wish that we could be 24/7 but the funding at the moment does not allow us to offer emergency services. If you been assaulted call 911 or report it to a Chaplin or the Military Police. If it is an option get a rape kit done at a civilian hospital.
According to the Department of Defense, they have a total of 3230 reported rapes in the military for fiscal year 2009 or roughly a rape is reported every four hours. According to experts from the Department of Defense, the Military Rape Crisis Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs many more rape cases go unreported or are under reported perhaps making Military Sexual Trauma the most underreported crime committed against American citizens.
We can look at statistics but it does not give us the full picture. Yes, 3230 reported rapes in the military but what is the story behind each of those rapes. Survivors now have a chance to share their stories.
Sarah from the United States Marine Corps reported her command put rank above anything else including ordering her to respect her perpetrator because of his rank:
“My command told me from the beginning to not tell anyone about what happened, “for my own good”. They told me that my safety was “their first concern” and that they would see this through to the end. So they said… In reality, they did everything they could to drag my name through the mud and punish me for having reported it, despite the fact that I was forced to do so!! I was frequently told that I needed to just forget about the incident, and “treat him with the respect his rank deserves!”
John, a United States Coast Guardsman reported witnessing a sexual assault that was retaliation of reporting a rape in her previous unit.
“I saw the woman surrounded by the men crying telling them to leave her alone. They were calling her a “crazy, lying whore” and telling her that she will pay for “snitching on their friend” and one said that “you are hot, I’ll love to rape you too”. I made my presence noticed by asking what is going on here and soon all the men backed off and acted like they were not doing anything wrong. They greeted me and left. The woman, her uniform ripped up and her in tears ran off the opposite direction. I couldn’t even ask her if she was okay but she was obviously very shaken up.”
When he reported to the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Department of Worklife he says that their response was to keep quiet of what he witnessed or else HIS career could be in jeopardy.
Melissa from the United States Air Force reported a rape against a Colonel. When forensic evidence came back confirming that there was a sexual intercourse her sexual orientation came out and within two weeks she was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. According to Melissa
“Within two weeks I was being discharged for violation for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Nothing happened to the Colonel. Even if it was consensual as they said that it was, the Colonel was married so charge him for adultery. I was a lower ranking enlisted personnel, charge him with fraternization. Fucking charge him with something. They had no problem discharging me for homosexuality but the heterosexual sex in their opinion was still consensual. He is still in.”
NFM reported that her niece was raped in the Coast Guard. Her command refused to follow policy and have CGIS investigate the allegations. She was forced to continue serving under the alleged perpetrator until she was involuntarily discharged from service. The pain from the rape and betrayal of her command was so severe that the young Coast Guard veteran saw no other way out than to commit suicide. She was found dead by her little sister.The family contacted the Coast Guard Commandant and did not receive a response.
Carri Leigh Goodwin from the United States Marine Corps drank herself to death leaving behind journals filled pages describing revictimization and abuse that she encountered from her command in the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps still denies the rape allegations.
My Duty to Speak was started by the Executive Director/Founder of the Military Rape Crisis and Coast Guard veteran that reported a rape at Coast Guard Station Burlington, VT. According to this courageous woman:
“I know the pain of betrayal far exceed the physical pain of the assault itself. I know how it feels like to be treated like a criminal for being a victim. I know how it feels like to lose your career while watching your perpetrator go unpunished. I know how it feels like to walk on base and hear “whore” or “liar” be thrown your way. I know that what I went through in 2006 has been going on for decades and it is still goes on today. I know that I do not want any more of my comrades, my vet-sisters, my shipmates to go through what I went through which is why I am sharing my story.
I am inviting you all to do so as well. If you are a survivor, a family member, or a service member that witnessed abuse please share your story. Together, with the public knowledge of what is really happening in our military we can put an end to the truculent treatment of Military Sexual Trauma survivors.”
If you are a survivor and want to share your story visit: http://mydutytospeak.com/be-heard/
If you want to read more from Military Sexual Trauma survivors visit: http://mydutytospeak.com