Archive for the ‘Women in the military’ Category

What cannot be raped

December 5, 2014

RAPE: an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: “the rape of the countryside”

I wanted to use this definition of “rape” for this post – because we all know that rape is so much more than “sexual intercourse through force.” Rape comes in many forms. Taking something that isn’t offered, violation of a person’s right to safety and privacy and the simple right to say NO, emotional and physical abuse. DESPOLIATION!

Despoliation – means to take something valuable by force. To spoil something.

I can tell you that my military career – something valuable – was taken by force. It was spoiled. “Professionals” want to run around and talk about trauma and talk about rape – but I think that this definition is so incredibly accurate! In fact, I believe that we need to replace all of the other definitions of “rape” with THIS definition. The definition above does away with several issues – 1) rape is about sex (NO – rape is about taking something by plunder, violent seizure or abuse) 2) Only women are raped (NO – anyone can have something plundered, seized, abused, spoiled or have their body violated) 3) Well – that is what happens when you put boys and girls together (NO – most of the world can be in a room together without anyone being violated!) I could go on and on with this – but this isn’t really the point of today’s post.

Most people know that I love my music! I have been having a couple of tough weeks. Severe nightmares, stuggling to get off the couch, being generally tearful, unhappy, agitated…ect. It also means that I really, really struggle to do anything at work! Happily, I can take a little time to get things ready for SAAM 2015 – so I can listen to some music – watch a few videos – just kind of think about what we might be able to use. I found something amazing today.

I am a grandmother who likes some of what Katy Perry sings. Yes, I admit it…I am a closet Katy Perry fan. Not all of her stuff – but who can’t love ROAR and FIREWORK. Those are two of my “go to” songs.

So I see this Katy Perry video on You Tube (just on the side where you can see just a picture – not the actual video) and I see a picture of Katy Perry in a Kevlar helmet and freakin camo face paint on and I am like – WTH! So I decide to take a risk and I click on it and the song is entitled Part of Me.

Basically – it is a video about a women who catches the boyfriend cheating on her, sees and Marine Corp bumper sticker and joins the Marines. However, the video struck me in a way that Katy Perry never planned. Hopefully the link works for you and you take the time to watch it.

I want to post the words to the chorus as well:

“This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
Throw your sticks and your stones,
Throw your bombs and your blows
But you’re not gonna break my soul
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me”

In the video – you see her doing all of those “military training” things that all of us did. (in some form or another) Then she is dancing in a uniform under the blue field of one of the huge stadium American flags singing the words in that chorus and I realized – she’s right!

Yes – they took my career through RAPE. Yes – they violated me, abused me, plundered my life, my career and they spoiled the life that I was proud of. But you know what…they CAN’T TAKE AWAY WHAT I DID! THEY CAN’T RAPE THAT!

They can’t “rape” what I accomplished. Basic training, AIT, my job, the awards and citations I earned – they can’t rape those. They can’t rape the memory of busting ass on the Confidence Course, or throwing grendades or firing expert on the M16 range. I did those thing – they can’t rape that. They can’t rape the values I tried to instill in my soldiers, they can’t rape the fact that there are a fair number of people who remember me as a good NCO. They can’t rape that.

No matter what was done to me – I always got back up. No matter how hard they hit – I got back up. Yes – my career went down in flames but I was fighting – I went down swinging – and you can’t rape that! That goes for every single one of you that are reading this – the very fact that you are reading this…that you are alive…that you get up in the morning and brush your teeth and live – they can’t rape that – YOU WIN!! Doesn’t mean we aren’t bloody from the battle (body, mind, soul and spirit) – but WE WON!! THEY LOST – YOU WON! It doesn’t always feel like that – but it is something we have to begin to believe about ourselves because one thing I can tell you is that every single time I look a fellow survivor in the eyes I don’t see a victim – I see a WINNER. If that is what others see in us – then we need to see that in ourselves. Maybe it is a one day at a time thing – cause I know I sure don’t feel like I have won much this week – but I made it!

Being a good soldier is a part of me they can’t rape – they can’t rape that – they can’t take that.
They can say all of the shit they want to say – but they can’t break my soul. They can’t break your soul. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t do some serious damage – but my soul is still my own.

I was a good soldier and they will never take that away from me and I will learn to be proud of that again – and you just can’t rape that!

Peace,

Joan

Triggering vs. Liberating!

September 24, 2014

Hello friends,

I have been taking advantage of the free time I have in my new job to start work on Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2015 here at my place of employment which we all know is the place that takes care of Veterans but I am not going to say it here.

Things that are driving me crazy is the topic today. Every year I prepare to hear the exact same stupid, freaking statement; “We don’t want to trigger anyone.”
I hate the word “trigger.” Oh – I know that it happens, it has happened to me on many occasions – but I find that people who don’t KNOW squat about MST like to use the word “trigger” to AVOID talking about the issue.

We don’t want to talk about RAPE – it is truly a 4-letter word. No, it is not a comfortable subject, it is not a happy subject – let’s just talk about happy things here and not actually deal with any issues.

“Good morning – welcome to your appointment – would you like to quit smoking? Do you drink too much? Good – here are your pills…have a nice day!”

Thankfully – that is NOT my experience with my Psychiatrist or therapist – but I know that it is the experience for many people.

For anyone who MIGHT be reading this that is not a Survivor – let me define what a “trigger” really is.

Trigger – an unexpected event that hits you upside the head, knocks you on the ground and leaves you with an overwhelming desire to crawl out of your skin and find a very dark room with a locked door that you can hide in. You want a large pillow, or music or television to drown out to voices in your head that are telling you how screwed up you are – how you brought this on yourself and how much you deserved it. The voices call you weak and crazy and stupid and ugly – they tell you that you are worth nothing. No, this isn’t the official definition – but for me…it fits to a T.

Liberation is the opportunity to say, “I SURVIVED!” I have made a life for myself – whatever that life may be – I have continued to exist…to be…to fight! Every now and again, just being alive is a fight. Every now and again getting up in the morning is a fight. Not beating someone senseless can be a struggle. I AM ALIVE! I WIN!
Celebration of Survival is a good thing. Acknowledging the struggle and the pain and saying, “You are so brave!” is a good thing! For those of us who are advocates, this is the most powerful thing we can do. It is important to normalize the experience of Rape, not because it is okay that it happens, but because in the end we all have the same feelings of anger, hatred, sorrow, disgust, shame and self-doubt. It is the only way to help the Survivors! For someone to listen, to understand, to believe is something that is so rare out there in the world.

People die from Rape every day. They die at the hands of the rapist and they die by their own hand because they can’t deal with the damn voices in their head. The voices that tell us that we are dirty, that we deserved it, that we brought it on ourselves. In addition to the voices is the unique experience of MST, where the very people we trusted who were supposed to be on our side are the same voices we hear in our heads. That is what they told us – so it must be true. We hide away and we believe the same lies that they told us then – the same lies that we hear now – and no one is there to call the liars out. So too many Survivors have given in to the depression, believed the lies and taken their own life.

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Walt Whitman wrote this poem for us – in many ways – the Survivors of this experience called Rape. He even answered the question.
YOU ARE HERE! LIFE EXISTS! YOU HAVE AN IDENTITY THAT WILL NEVER EXIST IN THE WORLD AGAIN! We have the ability to change the world with our voices. Many of you who read this blog are fellow Survivors and fellow Advocates. Your verse is your courage to speak out when others stay silent. The nice thing about cyberspace is that nothing is ever really gone once it is out there. The young service member may find your words 5 or 10 years from now and decide to LIVE!

I continue to lead the fight in my little corner of the world. To teach that we need to CELEBRATE survival, HONOR courage and provide HOPE for the wounded. To teach that we can talk about these things – we MUST talk about these things – that it may cause someone to FEEL something is not a bad thing.

Feeling something is what we push away – we keep it bottled down inside of us and hide it from the world. Pretty soon, you feel numb to your own pain, to other peoples’ pain, until suddenly it breaks like a weakened dam and spreads everywhere. We have to help Survivors understand that it is okay to feel the feelings, to express the feelings and then to let them go. When they come back we start again, feeling the feelings, express the feelings and then let them go. Anything else is just a tragedy waiting to happen. If I have to feel the anger every 10 minutes – say FUCK THEM – and then move on…that is what I have to do. If I have to tell to voices in my head to shut the fuck up every 5 minutes – then that is what I have to do.

Celebrate your Survival! Celebrate your strength, your courage, your resiliency! Most important – Celebrate that you are living your life with HONOR! They didn’t – they gave away their honor the moment they touched you. However, HONOR is something that they cannot take from you! Your HONOR – the most important thing we have as service members – your HONOR is above reproach!

Blessings and Peace,
Joan

The Interview

May 6, 2013

Hello, Friends,

I am stopping in to ask a huge favor! I am in need of your prayers, positive thoughts and happy energy! After years of being “stuck” in my current job…I have an opportunity for a big interview…BIG – I mean really B…I…G!

For the last year I have been exploring the Peer Support certification and receiving formal training for a lot of the work I already do with my VSO and here at EitW. Many of you know that this blog began as a way to digest my own therapy…make sense of my own trauma and as a place to spew into the WWW everything I am feeling or thinking.

As time has gone on…and as more people have taken to reading this blog – we have reached out to others as a kind of a “support group.” We are not alone. Our experiences are different – but we have a choice…we can live or we can die. I don’t necessarily mean a physical form of death…but that happens, too….but a psychological death where the bastards win. I have chosen to live.

In just a few days I will be interviewing for a job, at my same employer, that will allow me to continue doing what I love doing…helping others to find their way out of the darkness. I would be doing Peer Support on a full-time paid basis! My tail is wagging! My tongue is hanging out drooling!!!! There are no words to describe how bad I want this job! I want this job so bad I am prepared to fall down on my knees and beg!

I am good at helping people – that is what I have been told. I love to encourage people and to lift them up. I was a “bullied child.” Constantly, every day – someone would bully me. I was pushed, punched, slapped – I was sexually violated. That hurt – but what really hurt were the words. “You are stupid, worthless, a nerd, a dog a squirrel. You aren’t good enough. You aren’t smart enough. You are a failure. You bring it on yourself – ya know…you squirrel. You’re fugly, ugly, four-eyed freak.” Even writing them sends a chill down my back…I can hear them – those taunts still ring in my ears. Sometimes…it still affects me. When I feel isolated from a group, or different – I can feel the little girl in me curl up and try to hide in the corner.

I had a few close friends. Not many. I had a couple of great teachers I really liked – they liked me too! We spent time together. One of them got me through Chemistry class with a C…since I can’t do math that was a huge accomplishment!

I like to make people feel good with words. All of the people that I have met through this blog have been such an inspiration to me! They push the envelope, they reach out, they open their hearts. They have encouraged me to do the same. I was at a VSO event this weekend and this woman walked up to me and said, “you are Joan…right? I hear you help veterans – can you help me?” Of course – of course I can help. I will do anything to help.

This feels like my shot, my chance – the one thing that will make everything okay. I recently turned down a “dream job” with my church. The money was good enough…but I called my priest and said…”Father, I’m sorry. The job is perfect for me…but something is wrong! I don’t think I am supposed to leave the VA.” He laughed…and then he agreed with me. He thinks I would be perfect for the job – but he is concerned that it would require me leaving the VA – he thinks God has a purpose for me right where I am.

We both had the same concerns. We both had the same worries. You know I always say…there is no such thing as a coincidence!

Three weeks later I get an interview for a job that would allow me to do nothing but encourage and lift up my brothers and sisters who are living with mental illness. A chance to offer support to their families..I know what it is like to be a mother of a mentally ill son who has a drug problem. I know what it is like to be a homeless Veteran with three young children. To live in a domestic violence shelter. To fight with the system for benefits, for help, for support. I know what it means for just one person to believe in you. Just one.

It isn’t about money, or paychecks or benefits. That isn’t why I work at the VA. I’m not saying the VA is perfect – I can tell you a long list of bad experiences, horrible flaws, ugly days. It doesn’t even have to be the VA – I can tell you about horrible people and experiences in private medicine! Expensive medicine with bitchy, mouthy, hateful people working there.

I’m far from perfect – but I try to give every patient one thing…a smile and a kind word. That may be the only thing I have to offer in a day. Maybe something to laugh about. A moment of respect, a moment of understanding or just a squeeze to their hand to let them know that I care. Every place that serves customers is built on one thing and one thing only – the people that work there. You can have the most beautiful facilities, the best equipment and state of the art systems – but if the people spend their days sucking on sour pickles…it doesn’t mean anything. People will forget what you did and what you say – but they will never, ever forget how you make them feel.

I have had some really terrific success stories drawing blood. I know, clerking and drawing blood doesn’t sound like much – but it is where the rubber meets the road. A link in the chain for how people “feel” about the time they spend here. I told one gentleman, who served in Vietnam, that I felt that he was a “hero.” Three months later he came back with a beautiful letter for me. It said that no one had ever called him that, no one had ever thanked him for his service like that. He was driving one day and it just hit him and he bawled so hard he had to pull off the road. We stood in the clinic hall crying our eyes out. I have that letter and I will never, ever part with it.

Let’s face it – the one thing that all of us have in common, as MST Survivors, is the way the perpetrators made us feel. The way the military made us feel – like we are worthless, nothing, that we are the crazy ones! They all made us feel like we were dirt…rags…something to be used and kicked aside. Then – they told us we were crazy, we were nuts! I was diagnosed by a civilian shrink as a “borderline personality disorder with Cluster B traits.” Talk about nuts. Cluster B traits essentially mean that you are a “drama queen” and that everything revolves around you. Like I was paranoid and accusing others of things that didn’t happen.

You know what is funny – “borderline personality disorder with Cluster B traits” has many of the EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Paranoia…check, worried that people are going to hurt you…check. It is partially defined as: extreme “black and white” thinking, instability in relationships, self-image, identity and behavior often leading to self-harm and impulsivity.

In other words – he was saying…”you know, you are bringing a lot of this on yourself.”

What did the VA therapist, psychiatrist and comp and pen people say about it…because I asked my therapist outright!!! She said – no, Joan…you are not borderline personality disorder with cluster B…you are a classic PTSD. Although it took me a really long time to describe myself as having PTSD.

That was quite the moment – I must say. The moment when I realized that it isn’t my fault. That I didn’t “ask for it” or “bring it on myself.” The moment that I realized that I was “normal” – as normal as anyone else that survived this shit. They were the screwed up ones. I’m okay – they are pieces of shit!

Wow – I hope the staff interviewing me doesn’t see this 🙂 Might be the end of the job interview :-)!!

Actually – I’m not afraid of them seeing any of what I have ever written. I care. I care about the Vets I serve. I care about making things in the world right. I may not be able to do much…but I can make it right for the few people I see in a day. Please keep me in your warm thoughts!

Peace,
Joan

Assumptions

November 5, 2012

Hi All,

I wanted to share what happened last Friday. I called the main VA in Iowa City, to set up my follow-up appointment. The woman who answered the phone had absolutely no personality, and acted like she was very irritated she had to answer her phone. Tip one for this lady, if you don’t like answering the phone to schedule appointments, get another job. Duh!

Anyway, she proceeded in the gruff tone, this is the conversation we had:

VA: NAME?

Me: B****

VA: What’s his last 4?

Me: 1234

VA: Oh this isn’t working, was that V as in Vern, or D as in Dog?

Me: B as in BOY

VA: What’s his first name?

Me: (I gave my first name, which could be considered androgynous)

VA: His middle name?

Me: CATHERINE

VA: Oh

Might I state there is no way anyone could ever guess I was a man on the phone, I most definately have a high-pitched, woman’s voice. She never went on to say she was sorry or anything, just seemed even more irritated that I was a woman. I did make the appointment, but did this whole thing just piss me off. I texted Joan and told her, she wasn’t too happy either. I didn’t read in the rule book, or the guides I got from the VA that ALL VETS ARE MEN. I swear, I put up with enough of that crap while I was in, I sure don’t need it now. And I am not all that thrilled to be going to the VA to begin with. I told my co-workers about her, and they were kind of pissed off too. I said with her personality, she was more like a grouchy old nun teaching school 30+ years ago.

Never assume anything. I am going to lodge a complaint when I have my next appt, maybe get her some sensitivity training or another job. I have figured out there are only a few times EVER that anyone is safe to assume the sex of the person the appointment is for. Setting up an OBGYN appointment, or a prostrate exam. Other than that, and you are at risk for making an ass out of yourself, which is what happens when we assume.

Change can’t come fast enough,

Brigid

O Canada

October 28, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I was supposed to take my 14 month ol granddaughter on a little mini 3 day vacation. But, as my bad luck always seems to have it, she was sick, and so was her mom. I decided to take her anyway, so her mom could rest, and I could give my little Kiki all the TLC she could handle. My daughter warned me to be careful, since I get sick rather easily since the blood clots last year. So I had a sick, sleepless baby for 3 days, and wouldn’t you know it, of course I got sick. I missed 2 days of work, and drifted in and out of consciousness on the couch.

During one of my brief moments of wakefulness, I was flipping channels and came across an episode of 48 Hours Mysteries. The title of this particular episode was “Name, Rank and Serial Killer.” Needless to say, I woke right up, and watched the program. This story was about Col. Russell Williams, a top military commander in the Canadian Royal Air Force, and serial killer. It was 2 years ago when he was sentenced to 2 life in prison terms for the sexual assault and first degree murders of Corporal Marie-France Comeau, a 37-year-old military flight attendant, and Jessica Lloyd, 27, and 82 counts of breaking and entering.

This story had me so disgusted, I can’t even begin to tell you. But he would break into people’s homes, and steal ALL of the woman’s undergarments. He also would steal the undergarments of the young females of the house as well. But while he was there, he would put on their undergarments, and take pictures of himself, and masturbate. Of course, he eventually moved on to rape and murder.

But what impressed me the most of this whole story was what the Canadian Government, and Air Force did. They stripped him of all his rank, medals and awards. Then 4 officers ceremoniously burned all of is uniforms and gear. They also suspended his severance pay. Can I get a GO CANADA? If you are interested, here is the link to the story: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7362254n

Why can’t our military and government follow Canada’s example? I firmly believe if we started actually punishing these predators in the military, and punish them severely, there would be a heck of a lot less rapes and assaults against their fellow soldiers.

Still Praying for Change,

Brigid

The War On Terror

September 11, 2012

I remember the exact moment I heard about the Twin Towers. I was at work, and someone had heard about it on the radio. I thought it was awfully late to be playing an April Fool’s Day joke on us. Then more and more people started talking about it, so I turned on my radio, because I was sure they were all messing with me. It was like a really bad dream. Shock, disbelief, worry, fear. That is what we all felt. Then some of my co-workers went to the fitness room to watch it unfold on the only TV in the building. I couldn’t will myself to go, I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to crawl into a ball and hide under my desk. How could this happen?

Then I thought of my daughter, and called the school. I suddenly wanted to leave work, so I could go and get her, and wrap my arms around her and hold her until we all woke up from this horrific nightmare. The school informed me that several parents had called, some had come to pick up their children. But they encouraged me to let her stay. They promised me the children were all protected from this news, that they felt it was the parent’s right to tell them about this attack. But what they didn’t know was my little girl was in the library, and they were watching it on the TV there. They were just as confused and frightened as we were.

Then President Bush declared The War On Terror. Those words have been drilled into our brains for more than a decade since the anniversary of 9/11. The War On Terror. What is that really? For me, I fought in my own war on terror. The nightmares, the anxiety attacks, the depression, anger, hoplesness. I fight the war on terror daily in my mind. I was terrorized for more than a decade by several of my fellow soldiers, long before this ‘war on terror’. Why didn’t someone come to rescue me, and stop my terror?

I don’t want to take a single minute away from all of our wonderful  troops (non-predators) who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I never supported this war, but always supported our troops. Think of all the resources we spent on this ‘war’ and how many lives were lost. How many lives were ruined due to injuries/trauma? What did we gain by fighting this war? I don’t think we did. I think we lost more that we can calculate. The predators really were working overtime these last 11 years. So many MST cases, so many VA Claims.

I just wish President Bush would have ended the war on terror in the ranks. He could have, being the Commander-in-Chief. So could President Obama. What is it going to take?

Praying for change,

Brigid

I’m On A Mission

September 7, 2012

About 2 weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Governor Branstadt of Iowa, asking him to make a change in the Iowa National Guard. I pointed out that he was the Commander-In-Chief, like the President, and had the power to stop letting these predators keep on abusing us in the National Guard. I told him the statistics, how this has been going on for years, and how the Iowa National Guard is the worst offender. I begged him to do something, and asked what would he have done if his son had actually served, and been raped. Maybe that is why he hasn’t responded, I do not know. But that isn’t going to discourage me. I plan on writing him again and again and again, because I am just so stubborn, and pissed off.

But I have decided to take it a step or two farther, because that is just how I am. I have decided I am going to start an email campaign, and write all members of the Senate and also the House of Representatives, both state and federal. And then I am going to do the same thing for all states, including governors. I hope I can start some kind of movement, and encourage others to do the same thing. Remember, one voice in a storm can go unheard. Many voices in a storm cannot be ignored forever. Please join me in my mission.

You can find the email addresses and fax numbers for ALL Congress Members and Governors at the following website:  http://www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm

Below is the letter I wrote to Governor Branstad:

Dear Governor Branstad,

I would like to bring your attention to an article that was on the front page of the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Thursday, August 9, 2012. I am providing the link to it, in case you didn’t. It was titled ‘Local Veterans Speak Out About Military Sexual Trauma.” http://thegazette.com/2012/08/09/local-vets-speak-out-on-military-sex-assault/

I am a veteran, who tried valiantly to serve my country in the Iowa National Guard for over a decade, in spite of the fact that I was repeatedly raped, harassed and discriminated against. I am not the only one. In fact, I know of at least 20 women who suffered some of the same things I did while serving right here in the great state of Iowa. Nothing was ever done, we were all told it was our fault, we all were punished and branded as trouble makers, and Godd***ed Females. I lost my career over trying to make it stop. I even caused my unit to be investigated by the Inspector General’s Office. I attend a Female Veteran’s Retreat every year on the English River, and guess what the #1 topic is? Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD.

I even wrote a letter to The Adjutant General, pleading with him to make a change. Nothing has. Since I left the Iowa National Guard 14 years ago, other women veterans I served with told me of their rapes & harassment. I was so angry to find out my sacrifice accomplished nothing, and that it only got worse. I work with a man who served 20 years in the Army Reserves here in Cedar Rapids, and I asked him one day why he chose the Reserves over the Guard. He said it was because he couldn’t stand the way they treated the women, that the National Guard is the worse branch of the military for how they treat women. Unfortunately, I have heard this many times.

Pardon me for being so bold, but are you NOT the Commander-In-Chief of the Iowa National Guard? And as such, have you no power to make this stop, and stop immediately? Or do you agree with most of my own chain of command, that if a woman wants to be in the military, she gets what she deserves? Do you know in the military 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 10 men are sexually assaulted? What if your son served, and was raped? What would you do? 

What will you do now?

Thank You For Your Time,

Brigid

Spoils of War

August 20, 2012

What does that mean to you? How many times have you heard that term? Think about it. What three words ALWAYS proceed that statement?

RAPE AND PILLAGE

That was the reward for winning the battle. Take whatever you want of the enemy’s and rape as many women as you want. Make them slaves, kill them, it didn’t matter. They were just women anyway.

Some of the greatest military leaders of all times adhered to this. To reward the soldiers for doing a good job. Napoleon, Ceasar, Alexander the Great, Ghengis Kahn, the list goes on and on and on.

What about the Vikings? Do you know what Viking means? To go a-viking means simply to go and rape and pillage, and decimate the opponent.

Oh, let us not forget about our own history here. The Civil War. Didn’t matter which side you were on, but if you were lucky enough to march up to a nice plantation, or a farm house of nothing but women, chances of at least one of those women being raped was pretty high.

World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Yes, our soldiers did a lot of raping in those wars. Lots of raping. And it wasn’t always raping the enemy. They were raping the male soldiers back then, and what about the female staff of nurses?

Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom. These last two wars changed everything. Now our soldiers stop raping the enemy, and started raping ONLY their fellow soldiers. Men and women being raped by the people supposed to cover them in the fox hole, or to be their backup, raping them.

During The Invisible War, there was a statistic that made me almost vomit on the spot. They say a sexual predator in the military will go on to assault/abuse 300+ soldiers.

300+ soldiers. And there is no sex offender registry for them, unless they are actually convicted AND spend more than a year in prison. And that is rare. It is about 1% of all REPORTED military rape cases that actually result in a conviction with jail time, and only a FEW of them are for over a year.

After the film was over, a gentleman in the audience said none of this went on while he was serving. Joan’s husband was beside me and said, “Oh yes it did, you just didn’t notice.”

Last week was the anniversary of the first female Marine. Pvt. Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve Aug. 13, 1918. But rape in the military started even before then. The Revolutionary War, women like Florence Nightingale and others who tended to the wounds of the soldiers, many were raped by the soldiers.

All of these examples caused my boyfriend to say, “That’s why women just don’t belong in the military!” I don’t know why I allowed him to keep his manhood after that, or why I didn’t lay him out flat. But we should feel sorry for dumb animals and men. That is NOT why women should serve. Women have EVERY right to serve. We also have the RIGHT to NOT be assaulted/raped/harassed/abused.

But how are we going to stop it, when the whole basis of the military since time began was rape and pillage?????

Pray for change

Brigid

Fundamental Culture Shift

August 16, 2012

Hello, Friends.

Well – everyone is talking about The Invisible War and I can’t be happier about that!  In the past I have talked about solutions to the problem.  I would like to say that this is “easy” to fix – but anyone who has served in the military knows that change comes slowly.  In fact, when I went to basic training in the 80’s…my mess kit was manufactured in the 1940’s!  No, change doesn’t come swiftly.

The unfortunate reality is that we need to have a fundamental shift in culture – not just in the military, either.  I have a daughter and it terrifies me…the things I see on TV and in music.  The books she reads.  The internet she has access to.  The way that women are portrayed and talked about.  I am no longer her “mother” – her primary female influences (mothers) are people like Katy Perry, Bella from Twilight and Snooki from Jersey Shore.  They are the one’s that tell her what a woman should be like.  Even if I restricted all access to these things, it would do no good, because her peers and her teachers get to spend more time with her than I do.  All you can do is mitigate the damage to the best of your ability – try to teach her that she doesn’t have to look like a $5.00 hooker to be beautiful.  Teach her that her value is in being an amazing person on the inside – not worried about wearing the right eye shadow.

It was the same for me as a teenager.  I zoned out when my mother tried to teach me to cook and sew and how to mop the floor in pearls and high heels.  I despised her “how to make your husband happy” lectures about dinner and housework and such.  Of course, she was a stay-at-home mom who put dinner on the table at 4:30 pm and ran Daddy hot baths.  She was a typical 50’s mom -even though it was the 70’s!  She wasn’t wrong – she was just a product of her culture.

The Invisible War points out that Company Commanders don’t want to contact their Battalion Commander to tell them that there has been an “incident.”  That sexual assault is viewed as a “failure of command.”  The film is right – that is exactly how it is viewed.  When “bad” things happen – no Commander wants that on their record.  The current culture says that good leaders don’t allow anything inappropriate to happen.  Unfortunately, this keeps the Commander from actually doing anything – let alone the right thing!  Company Commanders cannot control everything that happens within their units – neither can senior NCO’s.  The consequence of this “keep it in the company” mentality is that the Predator can Prey again!

We have to change the culture that surrounds rape.  The culture that accuses the victim and creates silence through shame.  The culture that says – “If you weren’t in the military – you wouldn’t have gotten raped.  What do you women expect?”  We have to change the culture that allows women to be viewed as second class citizens.

Change comes slowly – but if we don’t get “change” into the fast lane – our Nation will pay a hard price.  The only way to do this is to speak out – talk to everyone you can – make them understand.  If we don’t then we will be allowing the same repeating pattern of violence and hatred.  And that is unacceptable!

Peace,

Joan

 

The Best Revenge

August 9, 2012

Hello All,

The Prodigal Brigid has returned, at least for today. I am sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I can’t begin to tell you all the things I have gone through since I last wrote. I got very, very sick, and almost died. It has taken me a several months to recuperate. But being the fighter that I am, I am still here. My daughter tells me I just refuse to die, and I hope she is right. In the middle of my illness, we welcomed my beautiful grandchild into the world. I have been stealing her almost every weekend, so my time is very limited these days. Enough of the excuses, time to get down to business.

I finally did get my decision from the VA for my Comp & Pen. I got a whopping 30% service connected disability for PTSD. They didn’t want to give me even that much, because they said I was too happy. But they had to, because it is the minimum they can give for PTSD stemming from MST. And it didn’t help my case that I am not an alcoholic. Too Happy. Let that sink in a little. I have severe anxiety attacks, have extreme startled responses. I deadbolt my door every time I come home, and check it constantly through the night, to make sure it is locked. But I am too happy. It took me reaching out to my congressman several times to finally get my paperwork going. So now I get $392 a month in compensation. I swear, I feel like a cheap $5 whore, except I don’t get even that much. But it isn’t about the money, and it never was. Having CID admit that I really was raped in Ft Gordon was probably the best thing that came out of this. That they actually admitted it. The only negative thing in my plethora of pages of the decision was that I was too happy. Wish I actually was too happy. But I have always said the best revenge is living well. And the entire time I was a soldier, I had a mantra. NEVER LET THE BASTARDS WIN. So I refused to let my chain of command see that they were winning the war against me. I learned to paste that fake smile on my face and pretend they were not getting to me. Guess I got too good at it.

On to current news. Joan and I were on the front page of the newspaper today, and even though we were photographed so we wouldn’t be recognized, a couple of people still knew it was me. I can’t tell you how scary that is. We did the interview, to try to bring in awareness for the film we are showing tomorrow night in Iowa City. I thought we would just be a fluff piece in the entertainment section. I can’t repeat the slew of profanity when Joan called and said we would be on the front page. Can you say PANIC ATTACK with me? All of the responses have been positive, however, and we are hoping the message encourages more to come forward, seek help and compensation, and become survivors instead of victims like Joan and I have done.

Speaking of Joan, can I tell you what a wonderful woman she is? She is relentless, getting donations to have the film brought here. Her goal is to have every community see The Invisible War. It is amazing how quickly this is taking off. So it was worth it to be in the paper. To bring this issue to the front, and maybe not only help others find the courage to come forward, but to possibly effect a change in the military.

Joan, I have to tell you that you are such an amazing woman. You have done so much. How did I ever get so lucky to have you for my bestest friend in the whole wide world?

I told Joan that I believe the article has done more for the cause than the failed lawsuit Burke Law attempted. And don’t get me started on Burke Law PLLC. I don’t have anything nice to say about them, but I could run on for days on the cold hard Brigid-like truth about them. I will only say that someone really needs to take a stupid stick to them and beat some common sense and sensitivity into them.

I will stop here, and try to write more often. If you get a chance, please see The Invisible War. Spread the word. One voice in a storm usually goes unheard, but when you had several voices, it gets much harder to ignore.

Stay Strong,

Brigid