Military Vet Shares Her #MeToo Story And How She Conquered Her Victim-Blaming Demons

By AG

Recently, a friend and I were contemplating our age and whether we had any regrets in life; specifically, from a woman’s perspective. I scanned my memory banks and couldn’t pull anything up by title, so I decided to scan moments and feelings instead and I kept landing on one moment. It was an instance many years ago when I had questioned a best friend when she told me she had been raped. I asked her questions like “were you flirting with him,” “had you been drinking,” and “did you invite him inside.” I thought at the time I was assuaging her fears by reasoning with her. It wasn’t until later that I learned the far more sinister reason I blamed her for what had happened: it was because I blamed myself for a similar situation. 

I am a survivor of military sexual trauma. It wasn’t until recently I was able to call myself a survivor, as I had been referring to myself as a victim. But acknowledging victim-hood wasn’t even the first stop on my journey of self-image. Prior to that, I had blamed myself for what happened instead of even having the wherewithal to acknowledge that something had happened to me.

I was one of the first women accepted into the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, and in 1995, I was invited to a party in the barracks by a group of men that I was finally starting to feel I fit in with. That night I met a guy, flirted with him, had some drinks, and eventually I blacked out. When I came to, I was groggy and had a pounding headache. I started looking for my clothes when the guy I was flirting with the night before sat up in the bed and asked what I was doing. “I don’t think I wanted to do that,” I said, and he replied, “Oh, are you gonna cry rape now?”

I grabbed a gray wool navy issue blanket and wrapped it around myself when I noticed I was bleeding, and ran out the door. It was four o’clock in the morning. 

The Master At Arms office – which is the equivalent of a police station – was situated between the party I had just left and my barracks, so as I passed it, I thought that maybe I should stop in and speak to someone there about what happened. 

I walked up to the window after nearly slipping on the freshly waxed floor in my bare feet, wearing only the blanket, and said, “I think I was raped.” The person told me to wait and walked into the back only to reappear a few moments later with two men in uniform who escorted me down a long hall to a small room. They sat me in a cold metal chair on one side of a metal table – fluorescent lights pulsating overhead – and began asking me questions. “Were you flirting with him?” “Have you been drinking?” “What were you wearing?” 

Then another man came in and began telling me the consequences for filing a false rape report. I could be court martialed for lying – I could be removed from school, I could lose my rate and rank, I could be dishonorably discharged, I could lose my benefits and signing bonus, and I could lose my GI Bill. They even threatened me with criminal adultery because HE was married. “So why don’t we chalk this up to what it really is.” they’d said, “Bad judgment on your part.”

Not only did I leave terrified of getting kicked out and vowing never to tell a soul, but I left actually believing in my heart of hearts that the entire incident was my fault. I believed it in my bones and in my soul. I believed it so strongly that a decade later when the same thing happened to my best friend, I found the words of those men in that sparse room with the metal table coming out of my mouth – “Were you flirting with him? Had you been drinking? What were you wearing?” That is the biggest regret of my life.

Since then, I’ve seen amazing therapists, and I’ve told my story in a documentary and to thousands of young women on college campuses across the country. I’ve learned a lot about going from self-blame, to victim-hood, to survivor. I’m learning to view my younger self as an amazing person doing her best to survive trauma. I’ve learned it wasn’t my fault. And now I’m learning to see myself as I see other survivors: strong, brave, and admirable for thriving in the face of adversity, though that is proving to be a tough lesson for me.

So the next time you hear a woman question a survivor, asking if they were drinking or what they were wearing, consider that perhaps she too is a survivor who still blames herself, and handle with kindness. As author Daniel Abraham says, “In an age of performative cruelty, kindness is punk as fuck. Be punk as fuck.”

AG is a veteran, PhD, federal government executive, comedian, author, and staunch advocate for the resistance. Her mission as the executive producer and host of “Mueller, She Wrote” is to employ her expertise in the absurd amount of Trump Russia news and wrap it up into tasty bites for human consumption; which she’s committed to do weekly until House Trump falls. AG is very dedicated to the separation of facts and theory, and works hard to make sure listeners know which is which. The truth is the goal, and facts are the tools. Most recently, AG also began a daily news podcast “The Daily Beans” to keep up the increased demand by fans for her particular voice in the space.
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One Comment

  1. Pingback: The #MeToo Effect: How The Tide Is Turning Against NDAs For Sexual Misconduct - GirlTalkHQ

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