3rd Place / Deeper Perspective / Deeper Perspective

THE BATTLE WITHIN: SEXUAL ASSAULT IN AMERICA'S MILITARY

  • Photographer
    Mary F. Calvert
  • Company/Studio
    ZUMAPress
  • Date of Photograph
    3/21/2014
  • Technical Info
    Nikon

Women who join the US Armed Forces are being raped and sexually assaulted by their colleagues in record numbers. An estimated 20,000 rapes and sexual assaults took place last year and only 6,236 victims reported their attacks. Just one in ten of those cases went to trial. The violence of the rape and the ensuing emotional trauma are compounded by the futility of reporting the attacks to their commands. At the White House and hearings on Capitol Hill, the US Military has been forced to examine why are rape and sexual assault are so prevalent within the ranks, its victims ignored and the abuse considered simply a breach of conduct and not a criminal offense.

Story

Women who join the US Armed Forces are being raped and sexually assaulted by their colleagues in record numbers. An estimated 20,000 rapes and sexual assaults took place last year and only 6,236 victims reported their attacks. Just one in ten of those cases went to trial and the violence of the rape and the ensuing emotional trauma are compounded by the futility of reporting the attacks to their commands. Most military rape survivors are forced out of service and many are even compelled to continue working for their rapists. US Army Spc. Natasha Schuette, 21, was pressured not to report being assaulted by her drill sergeant during basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Though she was hazed by her assailant’s fellow drill instructors, she refused to back down and Staff Sgt. Louis Corral is now serving four years in prison for assaulting her and four other female trainees. At the White House and hearings on Capitol Hill, the US Military has been forced to examine why are rape and sexual assault are so prevalent within the ranks, its victims ignored and the abuse considered simply a breach of conduct and not a criminal offense. TSgt. Jennifer Norris testified to a near empty House hearing room how she was drugged and raped by her recruiter after joining the US Air Force when she was 24 years old. The assaults did not end there. In tech school, her instructor sexually assaulted her. "It’s like being in a domestic violence marriage that you can't get divorced from," she said. Worst of all were the sexual assaults by her supervisor in the Maine National Guard that went on for months. After fourteen years in the Air Force, Norris left the military she had been so proud to join. She suffers with PTSD brought on by MST and will not leave her house without her MST service dog. The effects of Military Sexual Trauma include depression, substance abuse, paranoia and feelings of isolation. Victims spend years drowning in shame and fear as the psychological damage silently eats away at their lives: many frequently end up addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless or take their own lives. For five years, Gary Noling has mourned his daughter Carrie on each anniversary of her suicide in Alliance, Ohio. US Marine Carrie Leigh Goodwin suffered severe retaliation after reporting her rape to her commanders. Five days after she was sent home with a bad conduct discharge, she drank herself to death. "It destroyed my family,” said Gary. “When Carrie died I lost all three of my kids and my grandkids. I lost two thirds of me. Two thirds of me is in that box of ashes."

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