Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Statement - Part 1

This is the first part of my statement that was sent to the VA....

Note, names and base names are changed to protect both the innocent (me) and the guilty (them).  Its ugly.

To Whom it may Concern,

This is my official Statement in support of my claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by multiple military sexual assaults upon my person against my will during my enlistment in the US. Navy.
 I have never written or told anyone all of this before.
 I understand now that I was continuously sexually harassed to varying degrees from my first day at my first base, to almost the last day on my last base. 
 The first MST event occurred shortly after I had arrived at my first duty station, NAS FW .  

 There was a man who I met on base in civvies one evening by some benches.  He said he was from Iran and was trying to learn about our country.   He said he was a student, a pilot learning to fly and  needed help with his English and that talking to American’s helped him learn. I didn’t know anything about Iran or its political ramifications at the time. I was a naïve 17 year old in a brand new place, he seemed sincere. He offered to buy me dinner at the café there and  asked if I would talk with him so he could practice his English and I agreed.  He seemed nice and yet reserved.  He was very polite and formal during the meal.   There wasn’t anything unusual about the meal although it had been light when we started, and it was mostly dark at the end. 

It was not a lengthy meal and afterwards I said I needed to get back to the barracks and he offered to walk back with me.  I wasn’t sure this was okay but I didn’t want to be rude and so agreed.   I was a bit lost on base still and he said he knew where the barracks were.  Instead I found myself near a unfamiliar wooded area and suddenly.. the nice man wasn’t nice any more, suddenly, he punched me in the side of the head very hard, and then in the gut and as I fell, he quickly dragged me into the woods. I tried to stand up, and he punched me in the gut again, I fell down and then he was on top of me with a  knife.  He pulled my shirt open, gagged me with it and pointed the knife at me, then, cut my left breast with the knife tip and said he’d kill me if I moved and that he had diplomatic immunity (I didn’t fully understand what that meant at the time but I took it seriously from his tone and actions) and that my country would pretend this had never happened and if I wanted to live, then I better do whatever he said.  And..I did.  I just went limp.. I was too scared to even scream. It all became a blur. 

He…did.. Bad things to me with his penis and his fists and he cut my breasts, but not deeply, and he was careful not to hit my face or anyplace that would show while in uniform.  He called me horrible things.. Said I was an American whore and that it was every Iranian’s duty to destroy as many of us as they could.  He was hard to understand some of the time, but other times he was would enunciate so that I could understand him clearly. None of this made any sense to me.. I. was  just frozen and in shock as he brutally raped me vaginally and orally and sodomized me.. And beat my abdomen with his fists saying that ‘there would never be any Navy babies from this American whore’….
He said not to tell, but that if I did it wouldn’t matter, that no one would do anything and that he could to anything to me he wanted.  He.. Laughed a lot.  He. Enjoyed humiliating me.
Then I passed out. I don’t think it was for very long.

Next I remember waking up in pain everywhere and my head pounding and I was dizzy and cold, but alone in the forest. Not too far away I could see a light and I crawled towards it,   Finally I reached it and some blacktop. Then I passed out again. Then someone found me.  I don’t know who it was. I woke up someplace with someone asking me what had happened.  I was .. Ashamed..Mortified…dirty.  I said I didn’t’ want to talk about it.  My head was pounding, I  couldn’t see because of the blurriness, I was in terrible pain and I just wanted to be left alone.

 But they said that I had to tell, that it had been ‘destruction of government property‘ and that I would get thrown in the brig if I didn’t tell.  So I told them.. I said an Iranian student, a pilot.  Everything changed then.  They stopped asking me questions and left the room.   I heard someone telling whoever was in the room with me to give me something for pain, clean and  fix me up but not talk to me.  I was given a shot and then dozed in and out.  At some point they woke me up to give me some pills and  I remember a female telling me softly but kindly that she was sorry but that it was too bad I wouldn’t be able to have kids now.   I remember crying and then I guess I dozed off.
 I had no track of time but my perception was it shortly after I had dozed off  that I was shaken on the shoulder by someone. He was blurry, but it seemed he had on a long black coat.  I don’t know who he was, but he felt important. He asked if I was awake and could understand him.  I said yes.  He leaned in and spoke very close to my ear and spoke very .. Intently to me.  He said I had fucked up by going to dinner with the wrong asshole, but that there wasn’t anything they could do about it. That he had diplomatic immunity  and that I had gotten myself in to something I had no idea of, and that there wasn’t  going to be any fucking international incident because of my stupid ass mistake.  It scared me that this man was saying that same things the attacker had said,  and what he has said would happen, was now happening.  He said that they were going to give me some pills and that I was to go back to the barracks and stay covered up and in bed for the weekend. That I was to tell anyone who asked that I had tripped and fallen down the barracks staircase and that I was just a little sore and resting, but was okay.  He then specifically said that there would be no record of my ever being there that night. He said that I was never to tell anyone, even my own mother and that if I did, I and whoever I told would be in very bad trouble and possibly disappear. He said that was a direct order that I was to obey. I said ’yes Sir’. and then he left.  I was already scared and he scared me almost worse then the man who hurt me did. I don’t know who he was, but he felt like someone who made people disappear.  I don’t know what time it was when I woke up back in the barracks. I don’t remember getting back to them.  But I did exactly what he said and never told anyone the full story until I wrote it out for the claim. No one ever asked any questions about my injuries, and I never told anyone all of the story..  I was deeply terrified of ever telling anyone. 

 I was engaged at the time of the attack, to a very sweet young man I loved dearly.   I loved his family too, especially his little brother and Mom.  We had plans to join the Navy and serve our country together.  But now… I was.. Unworthy and.. Couldn’t have children which he wanted.  So . I lied to him, broke up with him, told him I was leaving him for someone else.  I have never had a healthy relationship with anyone since.   His family was disgusted by me after I broke up with him, much to my despair, but I understood their perspective, so I had to bear losing them as well.

The impact of this event on my life,  and the secrets.. Have been.. Profound.  All the years my mother would ask me why I didn’t have any kids (during 3 failed marriages) and all I could tell her and all the friends that always asked was ‘guess I’m just not supposed to.  I would see them with their kids, and I would be devastated by my loss.  And, since I could never talk to anyone, it made me avoid some of my dearest friends. I never had any tests done, nor told any gynecologist or doctor about what had happened. I never had any fertility work done either, as I was always terrified that somehow, the secret I was not allowed to tell would come out.  I never adopted for the same reason, the less I had to lie about why I didn’t have kids, the better, any child I would have that way, was also reminder of how it had been taken from me, which I couldn’t talk about. 

 I have always found myself terrified and jumpy.  I have horrible nightmares and panic attacks.  I have wanted to get help for these problems but because I was told to never tell, I never was able to bring myself to.  

The only reason . I have come forward now… was because I did a women’s veteran’s questionnaire and it had some questions about things that happened to you during your service.  Then I read about PTSD and Military Sexual Assault and that you could get therapy for it.  I was not willing to come get the help for myself even so.  I am only doing it, because of a dear friend, a female Navy Desert Storm veteran who I met online, and we started talking. We told each other some of the terrible things that had happened to us as females in the military. We both have nightmares and panic attacks and many issues related to what happened to us.  She had covered up things happen to her too.  So we made a pact, and I would go first to find out about the therapy and help.   So on December 5, 2011 I went to MF. VA find out about it.  I was told that I did not qualify for medical help due to my income.  I started having one of my panic attacks, and I couldn’t disappoint my friend.  The man at the desk then sent me over to Mental Health, who said he was sorry but he couldn’t help me as I wasn’t in the system.  I fell apart outside, but a nice lady then told me to go to Social Services.  So I managed to find my way there, only because of my pact with my friend and I couldn’t run away for her sake, I had to soldier on.   Once there, a nice lady social worker asked what sort of help I needed.  I told her I thought I was having a breakdown due to PTSD from a MST.  She said she knew exactly where to send me for help.  She gave me the address to the Vet Center on S. Street and I managed to get there.  It was there that the nice office manager greeted me and asked what I needed.  I managed to tell him why I was there, and also about my friend.  He was very nice and got the address for the Vet Center where my friend is, and then he helped me to fill out forms I needed to do there.  Then he told me that I needed to go file for benefits for PTSD due to MST.  I didn’t understand what he meant at first, and then told him no, I only came to get some confidential therapy, not file for any benefits.  I’m not even supposed to talk about it!  He Then told me it was my lucky day, in that they only do 8 veterans at a time for the orientation and that there had just been a cancellation and that it was in about an hour.  Well, he was exceedingly kind and sincere, and I knew I needed help, as does my friend. So if this orientation was the first step to help us, then I needed to do it, so I agreed. 

I found myself an hour later in a room with 7 other veterans.  All male, all combat Vets.  I learned a lot during the orientation and I cried most of the way through it.  Dr. L told us that if we had symptoms in the categories she was going to go through then we needed to file for benefits and that we deserved them.  I was frankly shocked as she listed the hell of my life.  I wanted to deny it.  But for my dear, so badly injured friend, and after lengthy talk with Dr. L I know they are right. And so.. I am writing all this out.  I know it is long. And there is more. But.. After 35 years, this is my chance to finally, officially.. Tell my story. And to see.. The WHOLE PICTURE  of who I am, and who I could have been.  To see the puzzle of the whole ugly mess come into focus… and to remember the.. Injustice for how I was used and treated as I served my county.

 “I hereby certify that the information I have given it true to the best of my knowledge and belief”


I'll post the next two parts over the next couple of days....
I didn't know anything about having a service rep to help me with it, so I did it myself.  I also have support letters from several friends. I'll see what I'll ad from those as well.
Part 1, over and out,

1 comment:

  1. Dear Myst,

    There are no words to express how sorry I am that this happened to you.

    For anyone seeking help from the VA Hospital System...there is one statement you need to know and one person you need to ask for...

    "I am seeking care under Public Law 103 and I want to see the Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator."

    Myst - the ER at the VA should have seen you immediately under these circumstances. Thank you and bless you for "soldiering on." I did the same thing for Brigid...I walked through it first, was better connected with Veteran Service Organizations, and had more experience with the VA. Knowing how to work in the system makes it easier to guide others through the system.

    It is like a tunnel...we are deeper in than many of our brothers and sisters. Those who are farther in can shine their lights into the darkness to help lead our fellow survivors through the tunnel.

    Peace and Prayers for you!!