I have been struggling for so long now. I think I am ready to try and change that.
And I know the change needs to come from within me.
Recently, my new psychiatrist and I worked to find a med for depression that I can take, one that has no triggers for my IBS. We found one. I took it for 4 days. The side effects were more than I can handle. And they included stomach pain. So much for that.
So, we are working on other ways to treat my depression, including some natural remedies. We shall see.
I remember how, shortly after I started therapy, I began to find my voice, I began to be able to speak out. Somewhere over the course of the past 4 years, I think I've lost my voice. I don't think that has helped, and maybe has added to the way I've been feeling lately.
Anyway, I've been listening quite intently to the coverage going on about rape and sexual assault in the military. I listened to a general who was interviewed for a national talk show. His comments and opinions disgusted me. I have also been listening to what others have been saying, including Senator Gillibrand, who happens to be from my state.
So, after hearing the general's words the other day, and the senators words yesterday, I decided to send her a letter. I don't expect anything to come from it. If it does, maybe that would be a good thing. But I think it was important that I made myself heard, that I use my voice. I think I need to start doing that again.
So, here is what I wrote:
Dear Senator Gillibrand
I am writing to you today because I have been listening with interest to the work you are doing on behalf of those in the military who have been sexually assaulted or raped.
I am a veteran of the US Navy. I served from 1986 to 1990. I am also a survivor of MST. I urge you to continue the work you are doing, and my hope is that you don't back down until significant changes are made on behalf of my brothers and sisters in arms who are victims and survivors of MST.
I listened to General Boykin on Mike Huckabee's talk show the other day, and, unfortunately, I think that his opinions echo what many of this country's military leaders believe.
He refers to violating the laws of nature, and how the young men and women who are serving our country are at the peak of their sexual drive. According to him, the men and women serving our country live in close quarters, are away from their families, are in combat situations, and the gist of what he was saying is, what do you expect. But does that in any way justify sexual assault or rape? Does that explain it?
And he also states that the “sexualization of our military with social engineering” is responsible for assaults. In this segment of Mike Huckabee's show, he referred to women serving alongside men as part of the problem with sexual assault and rape in the military.
I have to tell you, that as a MST survivor, I was outraged by all he had to say. The things he said were offensive, and wrong.
I was raped twice, by a superior, in 1989. I served on a small base in Northern California. I served during the cold war. No combat. No living in close quarters. In fact, most stationed with me lived off base, in the community. I worked alongside other women, and men. And the man who raped me was in his early forties, definitely not the peak of his sexual drive.
Not only did the man who raped me threaten my career, he also threatened to ruin my marriage, and he threatened my life. Being that the base was small, I chose to not report what he did. I was also close to the end of my enlistment, and chose to be discharged instead of reenlisting. So, he actually did ruin my career, because when I enlisted, I planned to make a career of the military.
I don't know if anything I've written here to you today can be of any help in any way. I am just one of many who are survivors of MST, and I know you realize that MST is a serious problem in the military. I know that you take the problem seriously. I don't know if you've heard from any other survivors, but I think it is important for us to speak, not only to be heard, but so that our stories are told to hopefully make an impact, and to bring about change.
I am certainly open to you contacting me if you want to. But I also understand if you don't. In any case, I thank you for taking the time to listen.
And yes, I did include my name, address and phone number. If by any chance she does contact me, I will speak with her. But, it was not my intent in sending the letter that I be contacted, or that I become some kind of spokesperson. I will see where this leads.
I do have to say, it felt good to write and send this letter. Maybe, with all that has been going on in my life right now, gaining a little sense of control would help? I do feel like I had some control in writing this letter.
I think I need to try and get back to taking my life back.