The difference between what happens to a rapist and a rape victim has shocked the senses of the American public since US Congressional Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) began in 2011 sharing the personal accounts of military rape victims to other members of the House of Representatives in a weekly address to the House.
I do not like the term “Military Sexual Trauma.” Rape is a horrible and gut-wrenching event that destabilizes the family and the community and shocks the victim. Military Sexual Trauma is a watered-down term for a horrendous human rights violation that is too often dismissed by military legal authorities.
Rape shocks the victim. A victim in shock is given several psychiatric labels that may threaten the victim’s perceived job readiness. Military and Department of Veteran’s Affairs doctors will bend over backwards to label what was once called Rape Trauma Syndrome and is now considered a form of or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as Bipolar or Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a form of psychiatrically sanctioned victim-blaming and a way of denying benefits to veterans that were traumatized by rape.
Military rape was sanctioned by the Department of Defense when its legal defense against the 2011 lawsuit Cioca v. Rumsfeld indicated that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that military rape was an “Incident of Service.”
We accept war because war is a tool that is used in support of global stability. Combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has historically been treated as an incident of service because combat is part of the job of military personnel. When we treat military rape as an “Incident of Service” then we sanction rape.
"We the people" may want to ask ourselves what happens when we sanction rape. When most people report a rape they are met with a revealing question. Victims who report their rape are almost always asked whether or not they "said no?"
"No" is implied and should not be presumed.
"Did you say no?" ignores the fact that a human body should not be violated for any reason. When it comes to touching a person in any way, no is implied. If you have to "say no" to violence while it is happening to you then there is a linguistic presumption that without the victim having said no, the rapist has unfettered jurisdiction.
A rapist is a violent criminal but we place a burden on the victim that is unequal to the burden placed on the rapist. If we fail to change our paradigm, then we accept the paradigm that we have.
If we treat the human body as sacrosanct and untouchable, then we can prosecute rape as a violent crime. The burden needs to be on the violator — not the violated — lest we render the law meaningless.
After military rape, the victim is often in a state of shock. The victim may miss muster or develop a behavior problem that is related to having been violated. There is little structural support in an environment that emphasizes discipline without the benefit of introspection. Rape victims are likely to be further punished rather than helped for symptoms of rape trauma.
The behavior of the rapist does not change because for a rapist an act of rape is business as usual. The rapist often earns his next promotion and is treated like a victim of reporting if the victim of violence reports the crime. Rape is rendered a crime only in legal terms, but not a crime that can be effectively prosecuted.
When a rapist transcends rape charges unscathed, “We the people” have a federally paid rapist who has the green light to continue raping within and beyond the ranks. This rapist may rape military members, people within the community, and even children. This federally paid rapist might live in your community.
This rapist can rape your children and get a paycheck or a retirement check while doing it. “We the people” may want to ask ourselves if we want to pay rapists with federal funds.
Military commands often send rape victims to the medical department for mental health counseling. That counseling can be a hidden foe. Sometimes the military mental health community is merely a tool for military commands to dispose of victims and get back to business.
When the mental health doctor is not amenable to psychiatrically abusing a rape victim, the command may court martial the victim for adultery and give a “Bad Conduct Discharge” to dispose of a rape victim.
Rapists are rarely sent for mental health counseling. The mental health community only weighs in on the victim, and the treatment of the victim is rarely an affirmation of value. Mental health counseling while in uniform seems to be a ticket to discharge and limited future options.
Here is where it gets personal.
I am connected to military rape in every aspect of my life. I am a survivor of military rape and I am the daughter of a military rapist. As the daughter of a military rapist, I am the victim of a man who got the green light to rape while in uniform and came home to rape his children. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs pays my father combat-related disability benefits and gives him free healthcare out of federal funds. He may live in your community.
To add insult to injury, in order to refuse treatment to me, a Department of Veteran’s Affairs psychologist used the childhood rape by my military father to negate the military rape of which I was a victim while in the military myself, and dismissed me from treatment by saying that I had been unfit to serve my country because of the first rape.
In summary, rape is significantly more than the violent act of rape. Rape forces victims to submit to violence and limits their access to benefits and future employment.
To my knowledge, neither my father nor my military rapist have been considered unfit to serve by anyone. These men are treated as heroes by society and their victims are treated as lesser citizens by military and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs medical communities.
My father bragged about “Nailing Army nurses” while in Vietnam. He frequently told stories of “Nailing” women in the combat theatre. He loved to talk of these conquests and, to him, all women were there for the taking.
When my father raped me at age 14, he told my mother that he was disciplining me. This excuse was not well received by my mother, but my father was never prosecuted. Rape became an “incident of family life.”
Is this “incident” one that our communities can live with? If we do not have dominion over our bodies and souls, then how do we live with this fact and still call ourselves free?