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To serve and protect, but who will protect me?

I am now 38 yrs old, a wife and mother of two. One of which is heading off to join the Air Force in about 7 months. On the outside I am happy and excited for my daughter, but on the inside I am petrified! Let me explain to you why.
I joined the Navy when I was 19. I knew it was time for me to grow up and get out on my own. After completing bootcamp, I was stationed on a ship. I was scared and excited.
The ship had gotten underway, and we had a squadron onboard. They go underway with us when we we have aircraft on board. I worked on the flight deck where all the excitement was! After being underway for a few weeks, I was asked by my chief to go down to the squadron male berthing(where they sleep) on day. So obeying my chief, I went down to check on berthing and make sure it was squared away and nothing was broke.
When entering a male berthing, you announce very loud “female on deck!” This allows the males to know a female is coming in, and if any of the men are undressed, they will stop me until they are dressed. As I announced I was in there, there was only 2 guys in there. I said hi and we made small talk. I didn’t feel scared or anything. After being in there for less than 15 minutes, a third man walks in. He didn’t say a word to me.
I was finishing up my checks, I yelled out ” all right shipmates, I’m leaving.”
I was maybe three steps away from the door before I felt someone yank my backwards by hair. I was yanked so fast and hard that I felt my feet leave the deck and I landed on my back! I was shocked and confused I immediately try to get up, but realized there was one of the guys straddling me. He ripped my shirt open and began groping me. I didn’t scream, I didn’t put up much of a fight. One of the other men told me, if I didn’t fight, they’ll be done real quick. All three of them raped me.
When the last guy was done, he got off, told me to get dressed and they just walked out of the berthing.
I sat there for about 2 or 3 minutes in shock. I got up, got dressed and ran down to the medical department. I told the corpsman what had happened. He asked me if I was hurt. I looked at him in shock! I told him “OF COURSE IM HURT!” He said “no I mean like did punch or kick you? Because you don’t look hurt.” I couldn’t comprehend what he meant by that. He seemed to have realized what he said, and basically told me that if I didn’t have any bumps, cuts or bruises, that it would be hard to prove that I was actually raped and consented to sex. And couldn’t sit there and any longer. I went to my berthing, got sick, took a shower and went back to my work space. I ended up getting in trouble by my chief for being gone so long. He said he sent someone down to look for me but no one was in the male berthing, so he thought I was avoiding work!
I thought, he must have sent someone down to look for me just moments after I left for medical. Why couldn’t he have sent someone to look sooner?!
I went on in the Navy for another 5.5 years. And each deployment I would get more and more stressed out. I panicked, and with my job, you have to be aware at every moment on the flight deck. I couldn’t do my job anymore. When my enlistment was up, I didn’t reenlist.
I have been married for 18 yrs this year and have never told anyone, not even my husband. I am so super sensitive to the human touch my husband has come to accept that. Which is so sad to me. I have PTSD, racing thoughts, and constant fear for my children. I don’t want them out of my site! I try and reign that in, I don’t want them to fear the world because of my fears, but it’s a challenge.
Now that my daughter is joining the Air Force, I panic and worry about her. I struggle with telling her my story. Do I tell her to keep her aware, or or do I not say a word so that I don’t scare her before her adult life brings?
I watched your documentary, and realize I should talk to my husband, but I feel like that is as far as I can go. I have gone to mental health appointments at the VA Hospital, and have yet told them about what happened.

— Kendal

2 comments

  • Carly Ritter
  • Alexis

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