Interviewing rape victims is tough. It’s something I’ve done too often in my career.
Five years ago, our newspaper interviewed Shauna Newell (Independent News. “Shauna’s Story of Slavery,” June 7, 2007) about her abduction, rape and nearly beginning sold as a sex slave. At the time Florida was the second worst state for human trafficking. The major media picked up the story nationally. There’s still a documentary that runs every three months or so on MSNBC.
In 2008 when I hosted my radio show “IN Your Head Radio,” I interviewed Jamie Leigh Jones. She went to Iraq to work her way up the corporate ladder at Haliburton/KBR. Instead, she was drugged and gang-raped by her co-workers.
When she sought medical care, Jones was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed. It took the help of her congressman to get her home.
Last year at Hopjack’s. I spoke with a young woman about her brutal rape only minutes from downtown Pensacola. Her jaw was broken and the swelling still hadn’t left her face. I wrote about her (Independent News, “Outtakes: Failure to Detach,” Aug. 8, 2012) in hopes that it would spur our mayor and city council to take the violent crime in the city seriously. It fell on deaf ears.
None of these interviews prepared me for the magnitude of rape of our men and women in the military and how callously the victims have been treated.
The Pentagon estimates that 19,000 sexual assaults in the military go unreported out fear and lack of confidence that the military justice system will punish the attackers. One in five females and one in 100 males in the military have been raped while serving his and her country and less than 15 percent are reported. And worse, less than 10 percent of those are prosecuted.
Many of the female victims are raped multiple times by several predators, including some by their commanding officers. The military and Veteran’s Administration even have a classification for those battling the depression, loss of self-esteem and other mental issues from their rapes—military sexual trauma or MST.
I had six interviews lined up for this week’s cover story on the problem. Four of the female victims canceled out fear of retaliation from their rapists and the military. Two were willing to talk, but asked to remain anonymous.
Please take time to read this article. It’s okay to get angry. Then write our congressmen, senators and the commander at NAS Pensacola.