Feminist in Combat Boots

I took an Oath to protect the Constitution. Now here are my Constitutional rights. Written by Isabella Francis Mazotti

Military Sexual Trauma lawsuit–the day after.

By Isabella Mazotti

Imagine if you were the CEO of a large company and a lawsuit was just filed against you by one of the nation’s most powerful lawyer on behalf of seventeen former employees. Your former employees claim that they were raped by fellow colleagues while being employed by your company and that their allegations resulted in them being fired while the rapists were still being employed by the company. Every major media in the world from the Washington Post to the China Times made mention of the story detailing first person detail of the rape. All eyes are now on your company waiting for it to respond to the lawsuit and correct it mistakes.

That is exactly what has happened this past Tuesday to the United States Military when seventeen service members filed a lawsuit against Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld for knowingly allowing service members to be raped and further abused after reporting a rape. Less than forty-eight hours later the military responded through their actions.

The day after the lawsuit Maj. Gen. David Quantock of Fort Leonard Wood said: “Young kids make mistakes…But they have to understand that in the Army, those mistakes . . . will not be tolerated.” This sort of mentality is exactly what this lawsuit is trying to change. Rape is just a mistake, admit that you learned from your mistake and we’ll continue to give you a slap on the wrist each time you make this mistake.Rape is NOT a mistake. A rape is not an OOOPS I forced my dick into you. It is a violent act and a felony and should be treated as such.

A rape survivor of the United States Coast Guard been in the long process of joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a volunteer, non-paid civilian-based Coast Guard group, finally gathering the strength to join she contacted her local Flotilla weeks ago and was invited to attend their orientation meeting on Wednesday; the day after the lawsuit was filed. The meeting was held on a Coast Guard base. Despite being on the approved list of attendees she was turned away at the gate without reasons why except “you are barred from the base”. Rear Admiral Daniel Neptun of Coast Guard Boston has put an order in to forbid her from going on base. When asked why-the Officer of the Day on duty, Petty Office First Class Sanchez said “you know why.” Actually she does not know why, was it because she reported a rape or was it because she went public with the rape? Either way reporting a rape and using her constitutional rights to speak publicly about her rape doesn’t merit a reason to bar her for attending the event, especially since she had an invite from the CG Auxiliary.

On the Today Show, Dr. Kaye Whitley, spoke proudly of improvements made to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program including a new on-line chat option called Safe Helpline that gives survivors the chance to talk to “qualified” professionals about military sexual trauma over the Internet. After an hour and a half wait I was finally able to speak to someone.

*note, this is a fictional case used for research purposes.

This is basically what millions of our tax dollars went to just like $250million of our tax dollars went to a janitorial firm in Alaska to develop a global campaign to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the military. Dr. Kaye Whitley just does not get it.

Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell said in a statement that sexual assault is a wider societal problem and Mr Gates has been working to ensure the military is doing all it can to prevent and respond to it as a “command priority”. Command priority and yet rape victims are left out of attending events on a military base that they been invited to and high ranking military officers calling rape a ‘mistake’ instead of a violent crime. This is the military twenty-four hours the lawsuit, the military that is putting their best foot forward as the world is now watching. This is the best that the military at this point and time has to offer and their best is not acceptable.

Complaints against a SARC makes a SARC unjustly awarded the Best SARC of the year award-the story of Lt. Lori A. Alix

We have received copies of emails from a Massachusetts National Guardsman who was raped. Lt. Lori A. Alix, was her Sexual Assault Response Coordinator which whom she filed a complaint against via email (I did see copies of the email) complaining what every other Mass National Guardsman complaints about, a SARC is rarely available when needed.  She felt that her rape allegations were going no where and not taken seriously and she also felt that her allegations against this specific SARC was also not taken seriously. This was confirmed by the ill actions of the Massachusetts National Guard that despite valid and serious complaints about a SARC that they went and awarded this SARC “2010 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator” even with open complaints about her. Talk about a slap in the face and the emotional damage that this caused the survivor. You just don’t award someone while there is a pending investigation against something as serious as losing an investigation, doubting the survivor and allowing abuse to occur towards a survivor. A SARC’s job is to protect the survivor from further victimization not contribute to it! Finish the investigation against the SARC and if you still feel she should be awarded then go and do so but not when there is an open investigation against her!

When a rape report is filed, often the perpetrator is promoted while 92% of all rape survivors report being involuntarily discharged from service. It is the same that we see in this case, when a complaint is filed against a SARC they turn it around ans award the SARC. I’ll be following the Massachusetts National Guard and expose their unethical behavior until they change and become pro-helping their own comrades who been raped.

1ST LT KELLY SULLIVAN SOUZA, MANG- A DISGRACE TO ALL SARCS

Some SARCs were upset that we put all SARCs in one group and talked badly about them so now I am going to write about specific SARCs that failed our survivors.

We received many complaints against 1st Lt Kelly Sullivan Souza. She was temporary incharged of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program which many credit Souza for running it to the ground. Several survivors who have tried to work with her reported not having their phone calls returned, being forced out of the office so that Souza can go to lunch and one survivor even reports that Souza reverse the roles and found herself offering support to Souza, who was newly married and was facing her husband being deployed. We don’t really care what is going on in your personal life, do your job and leave your personal problems at home.

A survivor report that she was given information about a male-combat veteran yoga program which she found very triggering considering her rapist was a male-combat vet instead of programs specifically for sexual assault survivors. The yoga program according to Souza was for the survivor “to get over the rape”. I checked the website and the yoga program is the only local program that is advertised on the website–it is also run by a Massachusetts National Guardsman Jag officer so it seems to me that advertising for their own officers instead of doing what is best for a survivor. Ethically not right. Shame on you. Rape survivors should come before pleasing a military officer.

1st Lt Kelly Sullivan Souza, you failed Massachusetts, you failed rape survivors and you failed the Army.

If you feel that your SARC was horrific and want to nominate him/her email me and tell me why she should be listed here. If you feel that your SARC was awersome we’ll love to hear from you too.

the SARCs has spoken

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.”

 

Hello SARC do you hear me?

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.

First call:

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.

My Duty to Speak. Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma silence no longer.

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

If you want to take action to end the epidemic of sexual assault join the Military Rape Crisis Center or on Facebook.

Get used to being raped or get out.

After being severely beaten and raped by a fellow Coast Guardsman, the female victim was said to be at fault for choosing a career that was predominately for men, according to official Coast Guard records.

After the victim reported the alleged rape in 2006 to her command at Coast Guard Station Burlington, VT, her command locked the victim up in a janitor closet while members of her command that were not qualified to conduct a rape investigation concluded that it was a misunderstanding and no charges would be filed. The victim said she was ordered to clean out the attic with the alleged rapist, where they were suppose to “work out their differences”. She was forced to continue working with and live on the same floor in military housing as the alleged perpetrator for over a month before she was eventually transferred out.

According to Captain Scott Keene, the victim was ineligible to continue serving in the United States Coast Guard because she had difficulties adjusting to being raped. Is that not the same as telling a woman that is being battered or a child that is being abused to get used to the abuse or else something is wrong with them? The alleged rapist left the service voluntarily with an Honorable Discharge when his contract was up . The victim is now rated at 100% for Military Sexual Trauma through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and works full time on lobbying congress to pass laws to better protect service members that report a sexual assault.

This story is all too common. According to the Military Rape Crisis Center one in three women in the military will experience a sexual assault or rape. In the same study over 92% of all rape victims are involuntarily discharged from services for reasons of adjustment disorder or personality disorder. (http://stopmilitaryrape.org/statistics)

What is being done to help our service women from falling victim of sexual assault and/or rape? Top Brass think that enough is being done and see nothing wrong with less than 10% of all allegations ending up with judicial punishment (as compared to 40% charged with similar crimes under civilian court). We asked Ashley Young, a case manager with the Military Rape Crisis Center and Army veteran on what the military’s response is when a case that was obviously mishandled is brought to the military attention and she says: “the military claims that they have a zero-tolerance policy and that they take all rape allegations very seriously. Is locking a woman in a janitor closet considered taking an allegation seriously? It all depends on who you ask and many top ranking military officials see nothing wrong with it.”

If you do see something wrong with it and want to help protect sexual assault victim in the military. Contact your elected officials to support the Defense Sexual Trauma Response Oversight and Good Governance (STRONG) Act:
http://stopmilitaryrape.org/HR_5197.html

For more information on rape in the military or if you been a victim and need help contact the Military Rape Crisis Center at http://www.stopmilitaryrape.org.

Air Force survey: Cadets fear racial, religious bias

A recent survey at the Air Force Academy showed mixed results on the school’s efforts to improve religious and racial tolerance and limit sexual harassment.

One hundred and seventy-two cadets, faculty and staff at the academy  say they face religious pressure, mostly from evangelical Christians at the school, and are afraid to complain for fear of reprisals.

The set up of the Air Force Academy as of now is that senior cadets have complete control of first year cadets. With the hierarchy structure one just learns to suck it up even if abuse is occurring. This sets up the “I’m right just because I’m in charge” mindset. This may become abuse if not closely monitored, and it can last a lifetime. Twenty is too young to have almost total control of another adult who can not quit or walk away.

Actually they could quit but it is not a reasonable option. Why should a kid work for years to earn a spot, plan a future around it, and then when some other kid decides to wipe his behind with the Constitution and rub it in his face, just throw it all away? Why should the victim of a crime lose, and the criminal win?