As some of you know, I'm in the military. Recently, the DOD and the USAF have been seriously cracking down on the rising trend in sexual assaults. Largely because it's disgusting.
One of the things they've done is start a blog, which they sent out to everyone in an email so that we can all put forth our input.
Here's what I wrote:
"I am a normal woman. I am a Staff Sergeant in the USAF. I have been sexually assaulted three times in my life--Once by a fellow service member whose name I do not know, and never found out. I feel very passionately about the issue of sexual assault not only in the military, but in the world. The stigma carried along with the label "Victim" is crushing. The shame inherent in confessing that someone has committed against you the most personal crime I know is beyond compare, if you have never experienced it.
In order to fight sexual assault, we need to do more than educate. We need to do more than train. We need to come forward. We need to remove the stigma, we need to erase the shame. We need to encourage those men and women who have had their choice, their dignity, and their personal power taken from them to take it back.
This will never be accomplished through training, briefings, and CBTs. We need to share our courage, to share our strength. By coming forward and saying "This happened to me," we are taking back the power that was taken from us, and creating the opportunity to share that courage. If one person can stand up and say "This happened to me," they may give one other person the courage to stand with them. If we stand together with dignity and strength, we can kill our own shame.
I think that the SAPR program needs to put out a call for Victim Volunteers. Men and women who have been victimized who would be willing to stand in front of a room of hundreds or thousands of people and say "This happened to me." To show our community how hard it is, how painful it is, and more importantly--that we're not alone. The more people stand up and talk about it--From a real, personal, nonhypothetical perspective--the more people will come forward, and the more real fear will be instilled into perpetrators of this heinous crime.
Sexual assault is arguably the most underreported crime extant. If we remove the stigma from the victims, we have the chance to dramatically increase reporting. This will enable us to properly deal with perpetrators and prevent them moving onto other victims. With that threat hanging over the heads of would-be criminals, we could decrease the incidents of this crime. Any decrease would be an improvment, but we should not rest until it is as hard to imagine as murder, in our community.
I, for one, would answer a call to talk about my experiences in front of as many people as would hear me. I would love the opportunity to stand up and say "You are not alone!" So many times I sat, humiliated and uncomfortable, through SARC briefings. I tried not to cry. Hoped with everything I was that no-one would notice, that no one would know that I was "a victim." I secretly also hoped that even just once, someone would say "If this has happened to you, feel free to stand up. Show everyone that this is real." I hoped that if they did, I would have the courage to stand up. But no one ever gave me the opportunity.
This crime is real. It is prevalent. It is everywhere.
And it is up to us to stop it."
And I plan on making this happen. Before I leave the military (hopefully in 2017) I will make the Victim Volunteer unit a reality. Because I simply refuse to live in a world in which victimso of sexual assault are more stigmatized than the perpetrators. Because that's bullshit.