Posts Tagged ‘torture’

Brigid’s Comp and Pen

April 21, 2011

Well, friends, yesterday was Brigid’s big day.  It was her comp and pen appointment with  the local VA.  I went with her so she wouldn’t be alone.  I remember how bad it was…being alone.  Not having any idea where you are going in a strange building with strange people. 

Since I work at this VA – I couldn’t go here for my Comp and Pen – so I had to go to that strange building.  I had to sit with strangers and tell them the most shameful and intimate details of my life…my pain…my anguish.  I was afraid that any word taken out of context was THE word “those people” were looking for to call me a liar.  A liar, just like the Army said, so dishonorable.  As everyone knows, the VA believed me, and I was granted a 50 percent rating.

Brigid got to go to my building’s Comp and Pen.  I have heard so many people say very good things about the hospital I work for.  I’ve also heard nightmares!  In fact, I’ve had some of those nightmare days as a patient.  I was so proud of our Comp and Pen people.  They did such a terrific job.  In fact, the Psychiatrist started with the statement – “just so you know, I’ve read all of your records, this is really just a formality, I see you have a diagnosis of PTSD.”  Well, that certainly took the stress right out of Brigid!  It also took away a lot of my stress.  My stress was two-fold.  One, about taking care of Brigid and two, about not being horribly embarrassed by my own VA.

I will let Brigid tell the rest when she is ready.  I do have to say I was really proud of her!  She did a great job!!

Joan

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G. I. Jane

January 18, 2011

We are getting a free preview right now of the Encore channels and i decided to tape a movie off the other night.  G. I. Jane – it is one of my favorite films – but it also leaves me furious.  I watched it last night, against my better judgement, as a result this post probably will be all over the place.  It leaves me feeling that way- angry, disjointed.

I am struck at how good of a job Demi Moore does in this film.  She is believable – very, very believable, as a female Naval officer.  She doesn’t enter the all male training program to make a statement about women in combat – she does it to advance her own career – to get operational experience.  I can only imagine how hard she must have trained physically, because you can clearly tell when it is actually her.  I greatly respect her for shaving her head.  I can’t tell you how many times I just wished I could shave my head – but Army Regulation AR 670-1 – forbids “masculine” appearance to a woman’s hair.  I always found it funny in some ways.  The number one problem with the proper seal of a protective mask is having hair in the way – but a female can’t shave her head to prevent that problem.  Hmmmm – used to make me laugh that they were trying to get rid of us. 😉

The scene when the Master Chief acts like he is going to rape her makes me sick…really, really sick.  I watch it – because I want to watch her kick his ass!  I also love the scene directly after this, when the Master Chief says, “They aren’t the problem – we are.”

I have mixed feelings about a lot of that.  They are at SERE school and I know a little about it from friends who have been there.  They are right in some ways – the enemy will target a woman.  They are wrong in some ways – if the enemy sees that we are “gender blind” then it will do them no good and they will stop it.  Of course, being raped by an enemy isn’t as near of a reality as being raped by our friend in the military.  That alone makes me sick…it’s not the enemy we have to worry about! 

I find the Senator that sells her out to be a greater symbol than the somewhat pig of a Master Chief.  It is all about the politics of sex.  People who like to talk a big game have very little at stake and so we who are the silent wounded are quietly brushed under the rugs.  Out of sight – out of mind.

I have very few “famous people” I can honestly say that I would like to meet and talk with.  I did meet Nichelle Nichols (LT. Uhura on Star Trek) and that was a treat.  She is a very kind and gracious person and I was thrilled to meet her.   I would love to talk with Demi Moore about this film.  I would love to meet her.  If nothing else to thank her for her real and honest portrayal.  She strikes a deep cord in me, she isn’t preaching and she isn’t some sort of superwoman trying to change the world.  She plays it like it was real – just an honest woman trying to serve her country and advance in the best way possible.  I would like to thank her for that.

There was some military officer commentator on FOX News the other morning.  I can’t remember who he was but I know that he shocked the heck out of the interviewer.  She was stunned at his obvious dislike of women in combat.  I couldn’t help but scream – they are already there you dumb ass!  Women are serving in combat everyday – they just aren’t being given any of the credit.  In some ways I am glad that I am no longer there.  I don’t think I could watch the male medics next to me get their Combat Medics Badge and see myself and my sister soldiers passed over simply because we have tits.

Not every woman is cut out to be Infantry – for that matter – not every man is cut out to be Infantry!  I think we all acknowledge that.  I think one of the best lines in the movie between the Senator and Demi Moore’s character is in regards to “squat pissin in the woods.”  The Senator asks her if she really wanted that kind of life.  Lt. O’Neill says, “I would have wanted the choice!”

Isn’t that what it is all about?  The choice we have a right to make.  There were days I preferred working at the nice clean hospital and there were days that I preferred to be out in my ambulance navigating through the middle of nowhere and the rush of awesome you feel when you find yourself dead on the mark.  Crawling through the weeds, covered in muck and mud, no sleep – nasty food.

I wouldn’t have really wanted to be infantry.  I spent a lot of time with them and I had some really great experiences – but I wasn’t strong enough physically and I would not  have wanted to do the necessary training to get there.  However, I would have liked to have been given the choice.  Maybe then the American people and our brother soldiers will quit seeing us as second class citizens.  Maybe, if we are seen as equals, they will quit thinking that it is okay to assault us.  Maybe that is the beauty of the choice.

Joan

The Fine Line

October 26, 2010

Hello, Friends.

Well, today has essentially been a miserable day.  I am suffering from guilt.  On Sunday I got a call from someone I know that wanted me to give her a ride to the VA…she’s sick.  Well, I was in a distant city picking my kids up, so I told her I wasn’t home and woundn’t be home until later.  I guess she called me a couple of times and I never heard my phone ring…swear I didn’t.

Last night on my way home from the VA – her mom called me – no one would seem to give her daughter a ride to the VA.  I had meetings I had to attend and then I essentially hid for 3 hours.  I never committed to being able to be her taxi service.

I would like to point out that it is a 70 mile round trip to the VA and back.  I also know that someone had offered to give her a ride, if she could give them a little for the gas money.  I have also seen this person turn a paper cut into a four inch long gash that goes clear to the bone – at least when she retells the story.

However, I feel like crap for not just going and getting her.  What if she really was as sick as she claimed to be.  I do need to say that this person is not my friend.  She used to be my friend.  Actually, I am older than her and when we were in the  military together, her and some other young girls used to call me MaMa.  Need something?  Got a problem?  Go ask MaMa.

I spent quite a bit of time going toe to toe with male NCO’s that gave female soldiers trouble.  This girl was one of their targets and so a lot of issues for me came because I was protecting her.  When I filed charges within the unit, she had a private meeting with the Sergeant Major, all she had to do was say, “Yes, this is the truth.”  All she had to do was say, Yes.  Not only did she lie and say that none of it ever happened and that I was lying, but then she took her precious time to go out into the community and tell people that I was doing this because I was afraid to deploy.  Excuse me?  Several mutual “friends” came to me and said, “you gotta be careful!”

She acted like nothing had ever happened and for some time after I was discharged she would come to me to complain about SGT Jerk.  Oh, yes, SGT Jerk…the same one that likes to beat females with sticks in front of platoons.  I finally told her as nicely as possible that I never want to hear another word about him again and that if she had simply taken the courage to stand up for one moment…it would have been over. 

I try to live my life as a good Christian.  Not a “religious” person, but as a person who tries very hard to put Christ’s love into action.  Believe me, I know all of the Bible verses about loving your neighbor, forgiving 70×7, turning the other cheek.  But is there a fine line between being a door mat and a forgiving person?!  What if your cheek has turned so much that it just “burns” all the time?  What about protecting myself from being tortured?  To spend two hours with her in the car listening to her talk about the trauma she has suffered.  Wow…really…must be bad!  Or worse, that she has no real friends…no one does anything for her after all she does for others.

I hear from this person once every 6 months – and that is normally when we run into one another accidentally.  It is no surprise that everyone she called for a ride had other responsibilities or they were sick.  She takes and takes and gives nothing in return.  Not even the common human courtesy of friendship.  Real friendship. 

So why do I feel so like HELL today.  Like I have sinned.  Like I have failed.  Still, I know that if it had been anyone but “her” I would have been there in a heartbeat.  Really, I would have.  Even people that I wouldn’t necessarily call a friend.  Every month I shuttle my kids 160 miles to see their dad and then I go back again and get them.  I don’t complain.  They love their dad.  I can’t stand him – but when he had his heart attacks I came to the hospital. 

So why can’t I let go of this?  Maybe it is because there is a fine line – and maybe protecting myself this time was okay.  I forgive her – I truly hardly even think of her – and I know why she did what she did.  That doesn’t mean that I should have to be re-victimized just because SHE needed someone.   After all, that is a small part of what got me into the mess in the first place, when she needed someone I was there.  When I needed her – all I got was stabbed in the back.

Joan

Avoidance

June 20, 2010

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks, but it has been very difficult for me. I have been doing my usual behavior when things get painful, avoid them. As I move forward to file my claim, it has become abundantly clear that it is going to be the most painful experience of my life, which is why I have been dragging my feet on it.

My accordion file that I have kept for over a decade that is stuffed with the ‘dream documentation’ is so intimidating to me. I can pick it up, I can move it. I can pull the stuff out of it. But I just can’t seem to bring myself to read it. I haven’t read through anything that is in there is many years, so I really couldn’t say what all was in there. Joan helped me go through it a few weeks ago, but neither of us actually read any of it. It is over 100 pages of documentation.

My therapist said last week’s appointment was going to be the most difficult one we have ever had, because we were going to be going through over 10 years of treatment records. She had wanted to do that, so that I could know what was in them in case we had to turn them over to the VA as part of the documentation of my claim of PTSD and MST. I really didn’t want to do this, because I didn’t want to know what was in there. I was on edge the whole time for the 2 weeks before that appointment.

She was right, it was hard. We didn’t find too many references in there about my rape or harassment, just the initial diagnosis, and a few references here and there. I was kind of disappointed by this, but realized that it is more supporting documentation that I did suffer. She said that I had been in bad  shape when I first started seeing her, and her immediate concern was to get me to be able to function now, not live in the past. She was right, I had desperately needed to figure out how to get past all of that, and get through today, not keep reliving the horrible nightmare that was my life.

I have always avoided things that hurt me. I didn’t speak to my mom for 5 years at one point, because dealing with my alcoholic step father was becoming too much for me. I haven’t spoken to my sister in years, except on rare occasions, because she has done so many things that are beyond hurtful to me. My therapist actually says this is a good thing, that I avoid toxic relationships. So, it is no surprise that I locked all this documentation away, and never looked at it again.

But I have to now. I have tried my darndest to avoid it, but if I am to move forward with the claim, or if I want to join the class action lawsuit against the military, I have no choice but to read through it. My PTSD and time have really affected my memory, so I need to re-familiarize myself with it all. Over 100 pages of the most hurtful experiences of my life, and I have to re-live it all over again. This is exactly what I said I never wanted to do. But I am. And it really does hurt. Since that appointment this last Wednesday, I have been reading through a little bit of the stuff every day, and when I put it aside, it takes me a little while to realize that I am here, not in my past. It is so vivid, like I am really there, kind of weird.

I am amazed myself at what all I have. I really kept some good stuff, never knowing that it would help me over a decade or 2 later. I just kept it as an insurance policy, that none of my unit senior staff would try to harm me as long as I had this stuff. So, I have decided that maybe I should post some of the stuff from my accordion file to this blog. Joan always said that she had us do this blog to help us deal with things, not for the masses. But if the masses were able to find comfort in our words, then it was so much better. So, when I am up to it (which is quite the battle these days) I am going to start posting some of my statements, and some of the other things I have found in my little file. Feel free to read them, or avoid them. I am really only doing it for me at this point, and doing something only for myself is rare.

God Bless,

Brigid

My Therapist

June 2, 2010

Today was my day to see my therapist. I started seeing her back when I was 24, a couple of years before I met Joan. I had just finished a year of chemo, and was still dealing with having cancer, and being so weak. I had severe anger control issues, and I was angry all the time at everyone. I hated all healthy people, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to raise my beautiful baby girl.

My therapist was wonderful. First we worked on my anger, then we started dealing with my other issues. Even my therapist had a real hard time when we would talk about my rape, or the harassment I suffered. She diagnosed me the first session with severe depression, severe anxiety, and 2 types of PTSD, one from the cancer, one from sexual trauma. She told me in the beginning that I would be in therapy for the rest of my life.

I worked really hard at the therapy, took everything to heart. I wanted to be well for my baby, however long I was with her. So, after 2 years, she asked why was I still seeing her. We decided to cut back on the therapy, and try to deal more with the MST and the abuse I suffered as a child, but it always seemed like it was more difficult for her than it was for me.

At one point, I lost my insurance, and she kept seeing me for over a year on a pro bono basis. And I thanked her the other day for that, since she never knew what that meant to me. By 1998, we were pretty much done with my therapy, I was only seeing her once a month. Usually all we talked about was how I was being tortured by my unit, and how I was going to deal with it. I didn’t see her again for a few years, until my oncologist sent me back to her because they found an inoperable brain tumor, and thought I needed to talk about it. I saw her a couple of times, and we parted ways again. I need to state that I still have depression and anxiety, as well as the PTSD, but luckily I am kind of functional, and have learned how to live with it. No amount of therapy is going to make any of it go away, and since I can’t be medicated, all we could hope for was living with it. She gave me the tools to try, and I went on my way.

Then I started having stress/health issues the last few months, and so my doctors both agreed that I needed to go back to her. I am in my 2nd month of therapy again, this time with a mountain more of crap to deal with. We are starting to deal with the stress I am facing with filing my claim, but she thinks I need to see a VA therapist for dealing with the actual MST/PTSD issues. So does Joan. But I don’t trust therapists very easily, so starting out with a stranger scares the crap out of me. Plus, I really didn’t want to rehash all of that crap over and over and over again, it hurt enough the first time.

 But for right now, I have therapist I can trust, and one who kept copious records all those years. My next appointment in 2 weeks, she is bringing in my 4 volumes of medical files, so we can go over them, so when she hands them over to the VA for my Comp & Pen documentation, at least I will know what is in them. And, as she said, it will also be a refresher for me, since my mind has blocked out a lot of things. So, I am lining up all the things I need to proceed in my quest for the pension that was robbed from me. I don’t say justice, since that will never happen. But maybe the pension will help a little. Outside of castration or a long, painful death to the men who raped me, I don’t see anything that resembles justice happening.

Wish me luck!

Brigid

National Day of Prayer

May 6, 2010

Today is the National Day of Prayer…in honor of that I post the following…

Dear Lord Jesus,

We come before you now asking for your mercy and grace for our nation.  Protect and keep our service members in your hands. 

Be with those who have suffered and continue to suffer from the PTSD and the physical problems that come with being survivors of Military Sexual Trauma.  Be with the ROTC cadets who have no resources of support.  Place your hand upon each one of us and grant us peace.  Be with the leaders of our military and of our nation.  Give each of them the courage to confront injustice.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Blessings,

Joan

All the Lonely People

April 22, 2010

Hey, Friends.

Why do we hide ourselves from one another?  Have you ever struck up casual conversations with people only to discover that they are another hurting soul?

This has happened to me a lot in the last few days – mostly at work.  I sometimes wonder why we lash out at each other instead of being willing to be a friend?

Lonely people.  Silent wounded – if I may borrow a brothers  label for what we are.    What scars we carry?  Our voices whisper and are lost in the noise. 

I work with someone and this person has serious problems with me.  I don’t know why but we just don’t get along.  It is hard on me – it is hard on the enviroment I work in.  I’ve been here before.  I’ve had someone hold a grudge against me.  Of course, that grudge was because I had breasts, but it still triggers the same old fears.  Can I have this job taken from me too?  I try to be really nice to this person…but it just makes matters worse.  Can’t we just play nice in the sandbox?

Can’t move forward – certainly don’t want to go back.  Stuck.  I’m not getting far in therapy – I’m trying – but I feel like I am moving backwards.

This week I am supposed to think of the “physical” aspects of the Jerk incident.  (reference No Witnesses)  I’m not getting very far.  I feel the ground beneath my legs.  I see leaves, I see boots, I smell decay.  That sweet smell of dying leaves.  I feel the courseness of my uniform, the raw cotton of the sling I am wearing on my shoulder.  I see green canvas tent.  I feel the weight of the stick banging against my helmet.  It vibrates my helmet, it rattles my head.  I remember thinking…”I sure am glad I left my helmet on.”  The course bark of the stick strikes my shoulder.  It hurts…it hurts.  My shoulder is already injured.  Why would he do this?  Where in the rules is this allowed?  When will this end.  My helmet rattles again…my teeth rattle with it.  The stick strikes.  He strikes.  My shoulder – pull it in tighter to me…hold it close…reduce the pain.  The stick strikes.  I want to die there on the ground…die of the humilitation and the pain.  I want to go home.  I want to run and not come back.  No safety – no where to go.

“Stop – you are hurting her.”  A hand grabs Jerk’s hand.  It is a friend.  He is putting an end to it.  It’s over…I don’t remember.  What memory lies beneath that…what can’t I find?

All the lonely people.  With others every day…chatting, laughing, happy, sometimes just faking it.  Making people laugh.  I love to make people laugh – laughter is warm and rich and alive.  Happy people – lonely people.  Broken people.  Silently wounded – no one that really understands my experience.  Just a few…a few who live in the same nightmare.  Hiding people.  Frightened people.  People of courage who don’t get medals to show for it.  Lonely people.  People reaching out for one another.

Blessings,

Joan

The Aftermath

April 13, 2010

I felt that some of the things I didn’t explain in my last post about Ranger Wags should really be clarified. So this is kind of a continuation from that. The night that Wags basically forced me to have sex with him, it was less than 3 1/2 months after I had been raped in Ft Gordon. Imagine that for a second. Being forced into a situation where you are basically date raped just 3 1/2 months after being raped.

Now, imagine being raped, and having people know about it. Once you report it, it is out there for many. Now imagine that you are in a barracks with over 300 soldiers, every single one of them knowing. And then because of the investigation, you are moved into another class, because you missed too many hours that week. The next class I was in were all soldiers from the barracks behind me. Another 300 soldiers, and about 30 more of them were from my battalion back home. So now that is 600 fellow soldiers in Ft Gordon, and by the time I got back, my battalion of 5 units each had soldiers in them that knew I had been raped. Word spread. So, now about 2000+ people knew I had been raped, and that I had to drop the charges. So they automatically figured I was lying. Try to fathom dealing with that everyday for years.

Not only did I feel like I must have done or said something to deserve what Wags did, I also got the distinct shame of being a party to his adultery. He told me as he was forcing me the second time in the shower how he had gone back to his wife a few months earlier.

Just 6 months after that night, he transferred to Co A, and I stayed in my current unit. I never told a soul about that night for years. I would run into him on occasion on drill weekends for the next 5 years, each time he tried to get me to transfer to his unit, and report to him. He had now been promoted from SSG to SFC. He said he would take care of me if I transferred. I asked if he meant like that night, and he said yes. I always told him I wasn’t interested.

I wish the story ended there, but unfortunately it doesn’t. 5 years and 2 months after his assault on me, I walked into my orderly room to see him there. I asked him what the hell he was doing in my orderly room, and he told me that was no way to talk to my new 1SG. I thought he was pulling my leg. He wasn’t. He was my First Sgt for the next 5 years. And trust me, it was never  a good experience. But I will explain further in future posts.

I know that there are good NCOs out there. I know there are good officers out there. I also know there are good men and women soldiers out there. Unfortunately, during my 11 years in the service, I only met a few of any of the above. Most soldiers of all ranks/genders were more concerned about protecting their own asses rather than helping their fellow soldier. So my question is, why choose to serve then, if you are not interested in serving anyone else but yourself? It kind of goes against the whole purpose of being in the military doesn’t it?

Brigid

How to Get Promoted

April 11, 2010

I had spent the 2 summers before I enlisted working as a civilian through JTPA. So I really thought I knew what I was getting myself into. During that time, almost everyone treated me with respect, something I assumed would continue once I finally was old enough to get in. On my first drill weekend,  I learned that my new Section SGT was now “Ranger Wags”. He always had acted like he hated me for the 2 years I had known him. He had been a recruiter for years, but had been fired because he was not able to get the numbers in. My first trip to MEPS, I was 3 pounds over weight, so he blamed me for his losing is job.

I was not thrilled that he was going to be in charge of me, and he made it clear he was going to treat me like crap. I was happy to be rid of him for 6 months of training. But the oddest thing, he started writing me these crazy letters while I was in basic training. They even turned sexual. It freaked me out big time. I replied that he was funny, that he had almost scared me, but I figured he was just pulling a prank. He wrote more descriptive letters, stating he had left his wife, and couldn’t wait for me to come back, that he was going to take me out on a date when I got back. I quit replying to his letters, because they scared the crap out of me. I did keep those letters for years, and wish I still had them, but about 4 years after Basic Training, my boyfriend at the time decided to throw them away. If only he had let me keep them, I would have had proof for what happened later.

 A couple of weeks after I got back from AIT, I had my first drill with my unit. I was scared, because so many people knew that I had been raped in Ft Gordon, and I was worried how I was going to be treated. Ranger Wags was a jerk, but I expected it. Then he told me at the end of Saturday, that he was going to take me out for pizza. I assumed it was one of his famous pizza parties he had for years, but had always excluded me, so I agreed to go. He came and picked me up and took me to Godfathers. When I didn’t see anyone else there, I became concerned. I asked where everyone else was, he said this was a private party. Then I got scared again. But I was basically trapped.

After pizza, I couldn’t wait for him to take me home, but he had other ideas. He had rented a hotel room for the weekend, something he never did. Wags always stayed at the armory on Drill weekends, because he lived 1 1/2 hours away. He stopped and bought himself some beer, which I thought was odd, because he never drank, but said nothing. He said he needed to pick something up from his room, and I said I would stay in the truck. He told me it was cold, and I should come in. Anyone who has been in Iowa in January knows that it didn’t take too much convincing.

So, we get to his room at the hotel, and it turns out the beer was for me. I had no intentions of drinking it, because now I was most definitely afraid. One thing led to another, and he told me the only way I could get my E2 stripe was if I slept with him. He made it perfectly clear that I wasn’t going to get out of that room until we had sex. So I gave in, because I figured I would wind up getting raped again if I didn’t. I just laid there and stared at the ceiling while he did his business. Then I took a shower after that, which he joined me in, and had his way with me again. I felt disgusted and ashamed. I trusted him, and he violated it.

 I was never so happy as when he decided to not learn the new equipment, so he got transferred to a different unit a few months later. He tried several times to talk me into transferring into his unit, but I refused. And as fate would have it, 8 years later I met Joan. Wags was Joan’s recruiter, and had written her creepy letters as well. And she still had some of them. Also, at one point, Joan had to live in a transition housing complex for abused women and children a few years after that. As fate would have it, the hotel that Wags had violated me in was converted into the transition housing for battered women.

I have to say that Joan and I are so much luckier than most in some respects. We found each other, and have been best friends for almost 14 years now. It wasn’t until a few years after we became friends that we discovered we had so many things in common, and had both suffered MST. I wish not one person had to endure this horrible crime, but thank God every day that Joan and I were brought together.

Brigid

Forgiveness

April 8, 2010

Earlier I told the story of how I was raped by two of my fellow classmen in AIT in Ft Gordon while I was passed out on a bed in my rented apartment. One of them was African-American, while the other was Caucasian.  I didn’t say that when I woke up, the African-American was in my vagina, while the Caucasian was in my mouth and I was gagging.  But I was basically forced to drop all charges against the 2 men, in order to save my four friends who broke down the door from facing 10 years in a military prison for witnessing an unnatural act.

What I didn’t mention then was that one of my two attackers confessed and even apologized to me over and over. He tried to do the right thing after the horrible thing he did, but the male investigators refused to take his confession. They didn’t want a scandal, but everywhere you went on Ft Gordon for the next few weeks, people were talking about the trainee who had been raped. My father had even talked to the post commander (and recorded all conversations-which I still have), but all that got me was an emergency leave for a week, because I had gone on a hunger strike until justice was served. Justice was never served, however.

The African American’s name was Jose, while the other was Larry. Larry said over and over to me and anyone who would listen that he had done nothing wrong, and that I wanted it. How could I want that? I was asleep, and it wasn’t like I could speak with his penis in my mouth. But Jose really felt terrible about it all, he said he was drunk out of his mind and didn’t realize what he was doing. He was willing to take whatever consequences by manning up and taking responsiblity, but he wasn’t allowed. Because of his behavior after the rape, I was able to forgive him, but never forget the horror I suffered at his hands.

Larry, on the other hand, found some justice he wasn’t counting on. He took a couple of  ‘accidental’ tumbles down the cement stairs from the 3rd floor, and wound up walking into a few doors. I was happy that some of my fellow male soldiers were trying to teach him that it was not OK to rape, but they were the ones who got into trouble, not Larry. He got off scott free, and I have had to live with what he did to me since. I will never forgive Larry. EVER! Years of therapy still can’t take the image of waking up and gagging with his penis in my mouth, and him yelling at me not to bite. I wish I would have bitten it off!

The only consolation I had, was that both Larry and Jose were Regular Army, while I was National Guard, and I would never have to see them ever again after we graduated. I went back home, and they went on to their respective posts. Then I had my first Annual Training, and went to Germany. It was my second day in Germany, and I was in a truck on the way to my post for the next couple of weeks. The driver had to pull over and help change a tire on another vehicle. I was told to stay in the truck, which was fine with me.

And then I saw him. Walking on the road, 1o feet in front of me was Jose. Panic struck, I couldn’t breath. I was terrified, and all alone, and there was one of my rapists. He saw me too, and he also had a look of terror on his face. He nodded and practically ran past the truck. I could never understand why I became so panicked just by seeing him, especially after forgiving him, but I did. I still see that look on his face when he recognized me, and it still sends chills down my spine. I knew that he wasn’t going to rape me again, but I couldn’t stop myself from reacting as though he might. Thankfully I never saw him again after that.

All of that happened over 20 years ago, and it still feels like yesterday. I have been in therapy, but I still suffer from severe anxiety and depression, and 2 types of PTSD. And because my body reacts very badly to medications, I can’t take anything to help me. I try to remind myself that I forgave Jose, but I don’t think I have ever been able to forgive myself for trusting my fellow soldiers. Or for ever enlisting for that matter.

Brigid