Women in our military need protection against sexual assault too. Although everyone goes through some defense training and know more about how to prevent a personal attack than most of us, it still can happen, and you need to be prepared. Here’s a story of a young girl that was attacked and raped on her base while doing her job.
Megan was observing the night flight operations on base one night when she realized she had been followed by an intoxicated man from the barracks. “I felt a hand on my shoulder. At first I thought it was someone I worked with…But I got turned around and thrown to the ground. I realized I was in trouble,” said Megan. “When he was done I just stayed there. I watched him walk back to the barracks. I remember sitting there thinking, what just happened? This doesn’t happen: not in the military, not in the Marine Corps, not to me.”
Megan didn’t open up about what happened to her right away. “My shop (co-workers) noticed the bruises on my thighs and arms, but I brushed it off and explained it away,” she said. “I didn’t want to be that girl. I didn’t want to be sent home,” she remembers.
In the months that followed, Megan struggled with depression and found it difficult to perform everyday tasks, even basic tasks at work. “I would sleep with my lights on, my curtains open, and my doors open. I became suicidal. I didn’t want to keep on living like this.” After a trauma like sexual assault, it’s common to experience psychological, emotional, and physical effects like sleep disturbances and suicidal thoughts. When Megan realized the severity of these effects, she knew it was time to reach out for help.
Since she enlisted in the military, sexual assault briefs had been included in regular safety trainings and meetings, so Megan knew exactly where to go when she decided to file a Restricted report. “A Restricted report is kind of like a baby-step. When you file Restricted, you can get all the medical help and mental health care you need and still remain completely anonymous. Your CO (commanding officer) won’t even know your name.” She later converted her report to “Unrestricted,” allowing an investigation to occur.
“You can push it out of your mind, but eventually the depression and the anxiety creeps up on you. So I reached out to my roommate and told her what happened.” Megan was overwhelmed by the support she received from her roommate as well as the rest of her team and command.
Today, Megan is happily married and expecting a child. She still deals with challenging days and tough memories, but she feels better equipped to handle those thanks to the mental health care she received and support from her spouse. “It took a long time for me to realize that it’s alright to feel not-okay some days. I just need to be real with myself and say, ‘Okay, today isn’t going well, what can I do to feel a little bit better?’ Sometimes it’s as easy as getting my nails done and feeling pretty—because for the longest time I didn’t even want to feel pretty.”
She proudly shares her story to let other survivors—especially those in the DoD community— know they are not alone, and that help is available. “The more I speak out, the more positive responses I get. I hear from people all the time that this happened to (their) wife, partner, or mom. It made me realize I’m not the only one with this skeleton in the closet.”
If you are a member of the DoD community and have experienced sexual assault, know that you are not alone—and support is available. Safe Helpline is a 24/7 confidential crisis service specifically designed for survivors of sexual assault in the military. Safe Helpline is free, anonymous, and secure.
I got this information from a RAINN post