thought joining the military would make me proud. I thought the military was a safe place for women. When my mom told me woman in the military got assaulted, I told her she was wrong. They had programs that protect women from such things. Little did I know, I was the one that was wrong and those programs failed me. At the age of 20, I joined the military. I loved it. It gave me so much pride. And never once did I think the most unsafe place I would be was my own dorm room. I had a job that required 12 hour rotating night and day shifts, so I was on sleeping medication to help me get some sleep. This guy was best friends with my best friend and we’d hung out a few times, in groups, mostly drinking. He asked to come over one night, and believing he was a good guy because he was so close to my best friend, I let him. I informed him that I took sleeping medication and that I’d already taken it for the night but was stupid enough to let him come over anyways. I was naive. I had so much trust in someone I barely knew. I fell asleep that night. He was still there. I woke up early that next morning, drowsy, being felt and penetrated by this near stranger that I trusted. He raped me while I slept, and I woke up to it. Words cannot discribe how much disgust I feel for myself. That rape has led to ptsd, suicide attempts, depression, anxiety attacks, and much more. As a result, I was so disgusted with my own body that I cut myself all over, and nearly cut off my own genetalia because I couldn’t stand the thought of him being me. I could feel it long after he had left. I reported the rape, restricted at first. I sought out treatment. I drank myself into a coma. I got hospitalized. I finally decided to try to case to the full extend and unrestricted. I got interview by investigators multiple times, this beginning a horrid next 2 years of my life. Upon his interview with the investigators he declined his right to council and failed a polygraph, afterwards admitting to raping me while I slept as I ‘laid there like a dead fish’ in his own words. I thought I had him. We proceeded to trial and my lawyers made no real defense against him. But his team had a case against me. That best friend I talked about in the beginning turned against me. She didn’t believe me and she took his side and testified against me. They brought in someone I reported for stalking and he took testified against me. Who was really on trial here? Because it surely felt like it was me and not him. They let him off. I appealed and went in for a personal appeared. But this time, a year and a half or more had passed. I met with the new base commander at my previous base where this had happened. I read him my impact and begged for a chance at justice. He looked me in the face and said, you deserve justice. Again, I thought I had him. I was wrong. He too decided to drop the case. I’ve been discharged from the military due to ptsd that this assholr caused. I lost friends, my job, my safety, my dreams, my duty station, everything I’d ever wanted because of someone else’s poor decision. He lost nothing. He’s still serving and I’m left with the pain he caused while he gets to live his life. He admitted to it. But the military would rather sweep the case under the rug than admit rape is still a prominent issue in our military. So young women, just like me, will continue to join the military, I’m sure. Trusting that they, too, will be protected. That these things don’t happen these days. But they do. They are more prominent than ever. They’re just covered up.
— Iris, age 24