When I was in the Army, I became pretty rough around the edges. It could be different for other women, but my experience was that you either had sex when it was asked of you or you did not get ahead in life. The terms, and pardon my French, were that you were either a bitch or a slut. I worked really hard to try and earn respect from my peers and supervisors. I never believed I could do a lot of the physical things that the real tough men in the Infantry and Special Forces could do. Frankly, I didn’t want to. I felt like I was tough enough and it was hard stuff, being in the Army.
Sexual harassment was something I got used to. Every duty station I went to, I heard it. It was so common, that I not only gained a pretty thick skin about it but I also developed quite the potty mouth and I made lots of inappropriate jokes. This was a survival mechanism. I didn’t know any other way to get by, because I had seen what happened to the girls that tried to put a stop to it and it didn’t work out very well for them. I accepted the harassment as part of my daily life in the Army, and as long as I continued to do my job and work hard I assumed that one day I would earn respect.
Never did I give in and have sex in order to get ahead. I would ask my superiors what I needed to do in order to get the next promotion, as I would see others fly by me without the knowledge or training I had. I was told I could go to the promotion board if I would perform fellatio. As a result of denying this at many duty stations, I did not promote quickly. So by the time I was in a leadership position in Korea I was pretty hardened by my environment and the person I had become.
I was stationed in the northern part of Southern Korea. When I got there I had to go through two weeks of in-processing and a week of leadership training. Every single day, those of us in class would be told in briefings that we would probably get raped while we were there. During the finance briefing, we were told how to get paid properly and that we would probably get raped. During the Jag briefing, we were told what our paperwork should look like and we would probably get raped while we were there.
It was absolutely ABSURD!! I finally got enough and screamed, “WHAT IS GOING ON HERE THAT THERE ARE SO MANY RAPES?!” I was told it was because of the alcohol, which I absolutely refused to believe. I had been surrounded by Navy Seals who were completely wasted and never got raped. I had partied with infantrymen for years and never got raped. I was completely frustrated that, not only was it so common that we were being briefed to expect it, but it seemed like nobody was really doing anything to stop it.
The worst part was there was a profile they had put together. They told us that it usually happened between months 2-6 and it was typically a close friend we had made. All of the females had automatic locks on our doors because it was so common for guys to follow the girls into their rooms and rape them after a night of drinking. I was so angry that so many women could be so stupid to let that happen. Four reported rapes every weekend. One in four was male on male. That would not happen to me. But it did.
I was an angry person then, but I was also very lonely. When I got to Korea my boyfriend back in the States needed some “space.” I guess the space between Wisconsin and Korea wasn’t big enough! After three weeks of being told I was going to be raped I finally got to my unit. (I even had a scary incident during that three weeks, but that is another story) I didn’t know anybody and I had been dumped. I went to watch a softball game between a couple of different units just to get out of my room.
There was a really cute guy there, and he was athletic. I saw him looking at me and I figured that would be nice to get some attention from a cute guy. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing I was dumped, after all. After the game, I stuck around. He talked to me a little bit and invited me for drinks. I went and met him and the guys in his unit. He was funny and confident and cute, even if he was short. But there was a problem. He was a (warrant) officer and I was enlisted. That is a really big no-no for relationships. But I quickly found out that nobody in Korea really cares about fraternization rules in Korea.
We became friends, but I really wasn’t interested in him in that way. Soon, we realized we had a mutual female friend who was also an officer. I met her at in-processing and people thought we were sisters. She was married and her husband was in the States, so she needed safe people to hang out with that wouldn’t hit on her. It didn’t take long for the three of us to meet up every weekend and hangout. We were kind of like the Three Musketeers and we would have a great time. He would invite me over to watch Lost sometimes, and it never went past a friendship. He told me he was attracted to me, and I told him I just wasn’t looking for anything more.
One night he got very angry with me. I don’t remember exactly why, but I think it was because I was saying no to his advances. He got violent with me and shoved me up against his wall and nearly hit me. It scared me, because I saw a crazy look in his eyes I hadn’t seen before. I left, but I answered the phone when he called. I accepted his apology. I knew I should stay away, but I felt loved and it’s what I needed to feel.
A few weeks later, the Three Musketeers went out again. I didn’t feel like I drank that much, but I couldn’t function very well. We took a taxi back on base and dropped off our friend and he told the taxi to go back to his place. We went to his room and I was saying I needed to go home, but he said he wanted to take care of me. He told me he was going to take care of me as he was taking my pants off and I said, “No.” He told me it was fine and he was going to take care of me as he kissed my neck from behind and I said, “stop.” I felt like I had no power of my limbs as he laid me on the bed. I kept saying, “no, no, stop. I don’t want this.” And he kept saying it was fine and he was going to take care of me.
I kept trying to push him off, but I had no strength. I could not control my hands or arms, and I did not have the power to get him off. I couldn’t scream because I was so out of it, so I just kept asking him to stop because it’s not what I wanted. When it was over, he cuddled me. He loved me. I passed out and slept there, through the night.
The next morning, I refused to believe what happened. This was my friend. Sure, I knew he was attracted to me. But I made it clear that we were only friends. I was so angry with myself. Why had I led him on? Why had I allowed this to happen? Only weak girls who can’t defend themselves get raped, right? It must be my fault. I shouldn’t have been his friend. I shouldn’t have spent all those months with him. But he really cared for me, so was it really rape? Maybe I could make it right.
I did the only thing I knew to do. I tried having a relationship with him. I slept with him willingly, because maybe deep down that’s what I wanted? Every time I did, I knew it just wasn’t right. But I was the tough girl, inside and out. And rape doesn’t happen to tough girls like me. I hated the kind of girls that “allowed” themselves to get raped. Wow, what an absolute idiot I was! I became a statistic that I hated. More importantly, I became a statistic that couldn’t be tracked because I didn’t report it. I tried to make it “right” in my head.
I hope you know that there is no “type” of person that gets raped. Rape is not just for the “weak.” If it has happened to you, please know it is not your fault. If you are reading this and you have been assaulted, do not take a shower or bath. CALL 911!! Please, please, please report it. If the assault has happened to you in the past and you are still working through it, please reach out for some help. For extra information through a company specifically created to help with survivors of assault: https://www.rainn.org/articles/reporting-law-enforcement