Ashamed


My psychologist asked me how I felt about my military service last week. I looked her dead in the face and told her very directly exactly how I feel. I am ashamed. She asked me why, so I told her that I am beyond ashamed that I could have been so proud to serve my country, only to be treated the way I was. I am embarrassed to tell people that I gave 11+ years of my life, and allowed them to treat me the way they did. I am ashamed that I gave up my career and everything I cared about, to try to save myself and other women, only to find out that rape and harassment in the military has only grown exponentially. My psychologist was taken aback, and told me that I should not be ashamed of trying to serve or do the right thing.

But this is the way I feel, and have for years. My best friend Joan also tells me the same thing, but I do feel this way, and I don’t see anything happening anytime soon that is going to change how I feel. My 18-year-old daughter had entertained the notion of enlisting in the military, and I told her if she did, I would disown her. I told her to read my hundreds of pages of documentation I have, and listen to the tapes I have from when I wore a wire during the end of my service, and then come and talk to me. I told her that now 1 in 4 women in the military are raped, and did she really want to risk that?

Let me repeat that last sentence, 1 in 4 women in the military are raped. Remember years ago when the statistic was 1 in 4 women. If you are in the military, and are a woman today, your odds of being raped are much higher than if you were a civilian. How can anybody claim to be proud of their service when a staggering number like that is allowed to be a statistic? It disgusts me.

What else disgusts me is the fact that I gave up EVERYTHING to save my fellow female soldiers, and what did they do? They ALL turned their backs on me, and let me go down in flames alone when I blew the whistle. Then a few years later many of them came to me, after they got kicked out as well, and stated that they wished they had stood with me, because the same things happened to them. They came to me wanting me to pat them on the back and give them sympathy, but quite frankly, I have none to give and didn’t. They had a chance to make a difference, and save themselves from the same thing I was going through, but kept their mouths shut and allowed it to continue.

So, my feelings of being ashamed of my service might be offensive to some, and I would normally apologize for offending anyone, but not this time. Because just how offensive is the fact that sexual harassment, rape and ridicule of both women and men is allowed to continue? I must admit that the military did benefit me in some ways, I am a very strong woman. I learned long ago to speak up for the truth and the right thing. I am proud of how I handled myself! I told my therapist that they tried to take everything, but I still have my dignity and my honor. And if I had to go back and do it all again, the only thing I would change is that I would have spoken up sooner, and much louder.

Brigid

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3 Responses to “Ashamed”

  1. jayherron Says:

    I understand feeling ashamed!
    My discharge-after only 7 months military service (two spent in the detention barracks D,where my rapes took place-almost everyday) I recieved an HONORABLE discharge!
    I have never felt any sense of honor-in addition to the shame!
    Oh…I was recently exonorated (some 30 odd years too late) from any wrong doing! My Dad died a year before that exonteration came…he disowned me after my short Navy career-saying I could’nt muster up!
    I lost so much because of barracks D!
    peace

  2. jayherron Says:

    BTW….the MST issue-as is with any sexual trauma-is not gender related! We really may never know the numbers of male victims-but I do know,there are many!

  3. enemyinthewire Says:

    Thank you Jay. I do realize that MST is becoming more and more common with men, and that men are even less likely to report it than women. All of it is a tragedy, and so sensless. If rape were a capital offense, do you think maybe there would be less of it? I have also heard of women raping other women as well. So it is not only a male dominated crime.

    As for me, my father almost disowned me just for enlisting. But he did support me after my rape in AIT, thank God. But for the rest of his life, all I heard was, “I told you so!” I found out that I was being discharged just a few months before he died, and he couldn’t have been happier with that news, although it nearly destroyed me.

    Thank you for all the comments you make, and for sharing your experiences with us. It makes us know we are not alone, even if I wish we were, and nobdy else had to go through this!

    Brigid

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