‘We Don’t Want You Here!’ Women In The U.S. Military – The Pain After Sexual Harassment & Rape

Betty Kilbrigh, 38 years old, Austin, Texas
She joined the military in 1989. Betty specializes in military transport; she drove jeeps, trailer trucks, trucks and heavy equipment transporters. She was deployed in a base on Saudi Arabia closed to the Iranian border, where she was raped. She says: Sexual harassment is a constant practice, if they didn’t respect us at the base, how could they respect us and protect us in the battle field?

 

Photographer Gabriele Galimberti is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.   From his project ‘GI Jane’s Other War‘.  To see Gabriele’s body of work click on any image.

 

Candice Harrington, 36 years old, New Haven, Connecticut She was deployed in Kuwait for 8 months and in a classified base in Afghanistan for 6 months. Candice has been raped several times and reported the crime to her superior. Was sent home with a honorable discharge in the attempt to cover up the abuse. She’s still waiting for the verdict. She wants to go back in the military otherwise, she says, they won.

Candice Harrington, 36 years old, New Haven, Connecticut
She was deployed in Kuwait for 8 months and in a classified base in Afghanistan for 6 months. Candice has been raped several times and reported the crime to her superior. Was sent home with a honorable discharge in the attempt to cover up the abuse. She’s still waiting for the verdict. She wants to go back in the military otherwise, she says, they won.

 

Jeanne Marie Carodeau, 54 years old, Austin, Texas Jeanne’s parents had problems of abuse and alcoholism. She left the family at the age of 15, and decided to pursue the military career at the age of 18. In 1974 she is accepted and spended 9 months at the San Antonio Air Force Base Boot Camp. Straight from the recruitment, sexual harassment becomes a constant practice. Suffering from too many major “incidents”, as she calls them, Jeanne Marie is incarcerated in the psychiatric ward. The same is done with other women who have been abused: they are treated as if they have mental problems, in the attempt of covering things up. In the psychiatric ward things get worse for Jeanne Marie, as the doctors as well turn to be sexual predators and she witnesses that other women are abused and neglected. These traumatic experiences in the military have indelibly affected Jeanne Marie’s life, who has not been able to get a job, have normal social relationships and carry on a normal life in general. It took her twenty years to be diagnosed with PSTD, and have her claims paid and her rights restored.

Jeanne Marie Carodeau, 54 years old, Austin, Texas
Jeanne’s parents had problems of abuse and alcoholism. She left the family at the age of 15, and decided to pursue the military career at the age of 18. In 1974 she is accepted and spent 9 months at the San Antonio Air Force Base Boot Camp. Straight from the recruitment, sexual harassment becomes a constant practice. Suffering from too many major “incidents”, as she calls them, Jeanne Marie is incarcerated in the psychiatric ward. The same is done with other women who have been abused: they are treated as if they have mental problems, in the attempt of covering things up. In the psychiatric ward things get worse for Jeanne Marie, as the doctors as well turn to be sexual predators and she witnesses that other women are abused and neglected. These traumatic experiences in the military have indelibly affected Jeanne Marie’s life, who has not been able to get a job, have normal social relationships and carry on a normal life in general. It took her twenty years to be diagnosed with PSTD, and have her claims paid and her rights restored.

 

Lisa Morgan Wallace, 29 years old, Austin, Texas She was deployed in the navy, on guided missile cruiser in charge of anti submarine warfare, in the Persian Gulf close to the coast of Iraq. Between 2004 and 2005 Lisa was stationed in a ship with 600 men and two other women soldiers. During that period, Lisa was sexually assaulted many times, though her first assault already happened in 2001 at the naval academy. All the three girls deployed on the ship developed serious panic disorders. One of the girls became suicidal. After a long period of incidents, all of them broke down and were put into interrogation, after which they were discharged. It took many years to regain a normal life.

Lisa Morgan Wallace, 29 years old, Austin, Texas
She was deployed in the navy, on guided missile cruiser in charge of anti submarine warfare, in the Persian Gulf close to the coast of Iraq. Between 2004 and 2005 Lisa was stationed in a ship with 600 men and two other women soldiers. During that period, Lisa was sexually assaulted many times, though her first assault already happened in 2001 at the naval academy. All the three girls deployed on the ship developed serious panic disorders. One of the girls became suicidal. After a long period of incidents, all of them broke down and were put into interrogation, after which they were discharged. It took many years to regain a normal life.

 

One out of every three American women soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan has been the victim of sexual abuse on the part of male US soldiers, ‘and 71 to 90% say they were the object of harassment by their male comrades-in-arms, subjected to constant denigration, insults and vulgar slurs.’ So writes Helen Benedict, Columbia University professor, in her book, The Lonely Soldier, the private war of women serving in Iraq, which has already unleashed fierce debate in the United States. In war zones, the ratio of woman soldiers is one to every ten men. “feeling as though you are a target 24 hours a day is not easy,’ Helen Benedict explains. ‘the message the men are sending is ‘we don’t respect you. we don’t want you here.’ then comes the physical assault, and finally rape.’ According to army statistics, ‘only’ o.83 out of every thousand women in war zones have been the victims of sexual abuse. However, the army also makes it clear that those are just the reported cases, and that 90% of rapes are kept quiet. Usually, the aggressors are the women’s superiors, and most often they are never brought to trial. In addition to all of this, it is also more difficult for women to gain access to health care, as only 14% of military clinics have departments dedicated to women’s health issues. With the assistance of American associations that provide help and psychological support to female veterans suffering from MST (military sexual trauma), I carried out extensive research for this project. I was able to establish contact with many of these women, veterans of the latest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also of earlier wars, all of them with stories to tell of rape and sexual abuse. I met with these women, interviewed them, and photographed them.

 

Betty Stuart, 56 years old, Austin, Texas She was deployed in Hawaii and Korea. Sexual harassment was an ordinary practice from the boot camp. Betty was blackmailed in several ways by her drill sergeant in his attempt to convince her to have sex with him. Betty got married to a soldier in a short period in which she is stationed in San Antonio. Later, Betty and her husband are both deployed to Korea. After some time things change, her husband became violent and abused her. Betty decides to report the facts and her military career comes to an instant end. She steps down in orders and asks her commander in chief to be relocated, as a normal practice. In respect of the line of command, being her husband in a higher rank than her first sergeant, her request is denied.

Betty Stuart, 56 years old, Austin, Texas
She was deployed in Hawaii and Korea. Sexual harassment was an ordinary practice from the boot camp. Betty was blackmailed in several ways by her drill sergeant in his attempt to convince her to have sex with him. Betty got married to a soldier in a short period in which she is stationed in San Antonio. Later, Betty and her husband are both deployed to Korea. After some time things change, her husband became violent and abused her. Betty decides to report the facts and her military career comes to an instant end. She steps down in orders and asks her commander in chief to be relocated, as a normal practice. In respect of the line of command, being her husband in a higher rank than her first sergeant, her request is denied.

 

Regina Vasquez, born 3/12/1978

G.I. Jane's other war

 

Regina served honorably in the Marine Corps as a Transportation Specialist. While training for her job she was drugged and raped by two Marines. The platoon Sergeant of those two Marines supplied ecstasy for them to use on Regina by putting it in her glass. After the incident, Regina tried to report it, the same platoon Sergeant threatened her by telling her she would lose everything and her life. Regina became scared and decided not to tell but rather keep what happened to her a secret which later developed into post-traumatic stress disorder from experiencing military sexual trauma. The same platoon Sergeant had video tapes of woman getting raped and sold them for his own profit.

 

G.I. Jane's other war

 

While serving overseas at her first duty station, in Okinawa, Japan, Regina endured sexual harassment and gender discrimination when she became pregnant the harassment escalated. Despite her needs as a pregnant woman, she received no prenatal care whatsoever, as well as being constantly harassed sexually by other military man who knew about her pregnancy state. In an advanced pregnancy state, when she was medically ordered in bed, no one brought her food, and each time she walked out of bed to get food on her own, she was written down by the other military man on duty. No one cared that she was pregnant. Exposed to high levels of stress, as well as chemicals she was in contact with while carrying out her duty, her pregnancy was severely affected and her son was born with cerebral palsy, a condition which needs important treatments. When she was discharged from the military, the chance for a claim ceased to be valid because of the statute of limitations. As a result, the government, who would have been held responsible for these events if the mother had any other job other than being in the military, is not offering any support for her son’s treatments.

Austin, Texas

 

See also:

Gabriele Galimberti Photo

 


Back to HOME PAGE

%d bloggers like this: