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I am a Marine. I haven’t been in for too long and yet I have managed to see so many flaws in the system. My greatest concerns surround assault. By assault, I mean rape. I was assaulted in January of 2018. I was drinking, underage. As we service members are not only confined to do, but actually encouraged to do. I will not name names. I will only tell my story and the stories of those souls who have enlightened me with their harrowing and repulsive experiences. I reported my assault—immediately. I went to the ER, got the rape kit done, and made a report. This report became unrestricted due to the fact that a member of my command happened to be in the ER at the same time as me. I went to NCIS. I told them what happened but left out the damning detail that me and two of my peers were drinking alcohol. Prior to my interview with NCIS, I was told if anyone else got in trouble for what we were doing I would be in very, very hot water. So when NCIS found out I had lied about drinking they decided I had lied about everything else too. They said it was my fault for drinking with males. Keep in mind that they were the only people I had. I was the only female in my job field at that time. They also told me that I had only made a report because I felt guilty for cheating on my then-fiancé, so I reported it as an attempt to be transferred to his location. They blamed me for the entire ordeal. I will not lie. I did make a few mistakes. My first was trusting my brothers in arms. My second was drinking. My third was not keeping my knife on me so I could stab that bastard in the skull. Me and the two others were punished. My rapist was not. He did nothing wrong in the eyes of my superiors. I was made to be an attention-seeking whore looking for handouts. My friends deserted me. My unit exiled me. I was left alone. I have undergone intensive therapy for all I encountered before, during, and after the assault. But not all are so fortunate. One individual, whom I will call Bryan, was also raped. But his assault was not even looked into. It was disregarded because, in the eyes of the authorities, he was just a “fag” in the closet. He wasn’t even offered counseling. He is now in the brig for a drug addiction stemmed from the assault. Another named Mary was assaulted not once but twice. They moved her away from her station but let the rapist go because she was no longer there to fight for a conviction. My dear friend Tara was assaulted by what one would think was an upstanding member of society: a federal servant. That report didn’t even get past the local police because she didn’t have any signs of battery.
Every time I inquire about any case left uninvestigated, I get the same response, “Well there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict. We have witnesses, probable cause, physical evidence, but the accused didn’t give a confession. So it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt that the assault even occurred.” I have also heard the response of, “It was probably just the shame of another one night stand that drove the supposed victim to report in the first place.”
I will not ever stop trying, however futilely, to bring a voice to those who have been subjected to the victim-blaming and silence of the military’s sexual assault response.
Now the PTSD: I have that.
I wake up in the middle of the night and I see a dark but identifiable figure standing over me. I can feel the hurt he caused to my body. I can smell alcohol and the mildew of the barracks. I will scream at my empty room thinking he’s there. I wake up with my fists bloody and scratches covering my arms, legs, and stomach. I feel the hurt the same way as when it was happening. I also dissociate. I have put a locked and loaded pistol into my mouth while screaming at myself from the ceiling, trying to make me fucking stop. But the person I’m watching isn’t me at all. It is the broken shell of the me that once was. She only stopped because a little pug scratched at her leg—out of control. I check my locks on my windows and doors ten times before retiring to my bed. It’s not enough. It never will be. My coworkers don’t understand why I am now silent. Why I am now scared to step foot outside my room. Why isn’t she eating? Sleeping? Talking? Anything? It’s because she is a walking corpse. She is only a husk of the real her. Every flashback reinforces the rule of one step forward, ten steps back. I am not the real me. And I don’t know if I ever will be. All I can think is IF THIS IS HOW I FEEL AFTER MONTHS OF TREATMENT, HOW IS EVERYONE WHO DIDN’T GET IT GOING TO SURVIVE?
We have to look out for each other. Regardless of your experiences, you have to care about your fellow man. It’s the only way we can survive.