Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nothings Gonna Change

Fiona Apple- Across The Universe


As I watched Fiona Apple's video: Across The Universe, the Beatles lyrics woven into a creative display of rioting, looting and destruction, my mind went to a place of fear, helplessness, and confusion. I think about the ceaseless ongoing attacks against humanity. The cafe seems to be a metaphor for our society with people running wild in a frenzy of senseless violence and chaos. This was a clever artistic message. We see the destruction in one concentrated area. We're left with the aftermath of broken things and property. Many of us are outraged that vandals have the right, it seems, to converge on a beautiful piece of real estate and out of sheer madness, break and smash it, and run away without any remorse or contrition.
Maybe the Fiona Apple/ Beatlesque is a lamentation of sorts, that "nothing's going to change my world." 
For decades rape, sexual assault, and military sexual trauma has been a stain on the shiny armor of our armed forces. We've denied it; attempted to sweep it under the rug; we've tried to quiet the victims with retaliation, and expel them from service.
Then when victim survivors wouldn't go quietly and began telling their stories. our military leaders promised "Zero Tolerance" of sexual assault as early as the 1990's.

Like Endless Rain


US Navy Lieutenant Paula Coughlin 
In 1991 Paula Coughlin, a very exceptionally bright and capable  US Navy Lieutenant, remembers the nightmarish account of being sexually assaulted by a group of drunken aviators. As she stepped off the elevator onto the third floor of the Las Vegas Hilton and attempted to get to her room, she found herself being forced through a gauntlet of sexual assault. As she tried to make her way down the hallway, about a hundred drunken officers tore at her clothes, grabbing her breasts and buttocks. She was knocked to the floor, and kicking, punching and biting, she managed to make it to safety.  She was one of 83 women and 7 men who were attack that weekend.

At the time it was considered to be the worse case of sexual harassment in the Navy's history. So-
called "officers and gentlemen" were part of a situation at the Las Vegas convention that elevated from a PR nightmare for the Navy, to a full blown media scandal. Later Paula reported the situation to her boss who replied, "That's what you get when you go down the hallway full of drunk aviators." The Navy's attempt to label the situation as "misbehavior" caused  Paula to declare "enough!"  She turned to the media, demanding that her attackers be brought to justice. Her appearances on National TV made her something of a celebrity to the female officers, but a trouble-maker whistle-blower to her male counterparts.

When I came forward, I was constantly attacked in the media and in any venue you could think of. Anything I’d ever done in my life was used to impeach me and make me look like a lying slut. The American public and the media now understand rape is a real problem in the military. There is a tremendous level of understanding when a person comes forward as a victim. -Paula Coughlin
After a tell-all investigation was conducted, and 90 victims were discovered, and 140 officers were involved, no one was prosecuted. But Barbara Pope, refused to accept the results of the first investigation, especially after Rear Admiral Williams made sexist remarks that he believed that "a lot of female Navy pilots we're topless dancers or hookers." The final investigation lead to Williams resignation for failure to lead a thorough investigation. Soon afterwards Paula left the Navy.

Aberdeen Proving Grounds
In 1996 The Aberdeen Proving Grounds Scandal was the largest of it's time. Rumors began circulating of a secret society within the ranks in which male DIs would target and sexually exploit female trainees at this installation.  Accounts of sexual misconduct, intimidation, conspiracy to conceal the wide-spread criminal enterprise and rape shocked even experienced investigators. Staff Sergeant Delmar Simpson seem to be the the brains behind the plot. Simpson had a knack for assessing females and determining and exploiting their shortcomings in order to obtain sexual favors.
"Aberdeen Proving Grounds is a location where Non-Commissioned Officers were assaulting and raping trainees, and passing the name of the person they had assaulted to another NCO" - US Army Retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy
 Staff Sergeant Delmar Simpson 
 A particular trainee might be deficient in her academic studies or in her abilities during Army Physical Training (PT), or the trainee might have a child back home. This fact was used by some of the DIs and they would deny a female trainee access to phones or leave to visit children during breaks in training.
Investigations also uncovered that male instructors at other basic training installations were phoning Simpson and others to give them “scouting reports” on the female talent soon to arrive at Aberdeen.
Of course the brass at the Pentagon denounced the scandal as being "unacceptable" and they had "Zero Tolerance" for such behavior. All in all, 3 men at Aberdeen, Captain Derrick Robertson and Sgts. Delmar Simpson and Nathaniel Beech were accused of participating. The heaviest punishment was brought against Simpson. He was found guilty of 18 counts of  sexual assault plus 29 other offenses and sentenced to 25 years in military prison.



L-R Jessica Brakey, Sharon Fullilove, 

Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, and Beth Davis
In 2003 an email made its way to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff, plus congressmen and the media. It alleged that there was a significant sexual assault problem at the prestigious Air Force Academy. And that complaints of the assaults were falling on deaf ears of the academy's leaders. An investigation ensued, and the findings were that "of 659 women enrolled at the Academy at the time, 70 percent of the women at the academy alleged they had been the victims of sexual harassment, of which 22 percent said they experienced "pressure for sexual favors.  -The New York Times. 28 August 2003. Retrieved 28 March 2005

US Air Force Academy
According to several sources, little had been done to correct the problem. Although it seemed that those who were disciplined were defined as scapegoats. Which included a new commander who was forced to retire only 2 months after the scandal broke out. The alleged attackers had since graduated from the academy and there was not sufficient evidence for a court marshal.



LaVena L. Johnson
 PFC LaVena Johnson was a bright and cheerful young woman who proudly enlisted in the Army. The last conversation her parents had with her was July 17, 2005.
"Looks like I'm going to be home for Christmas. Don't decorate the tree, until I get home." Two days later at 7:30 in the morning, the door bell rang. It was an official messenger from Army HQ.
"He stepped into our foyer and said 'This morning Lavena L. Johnson died of self-inflicted wounds.' I was overwhelmed. I fell back on the steps--- Linda started bellowing so loud--- it was a horrible echo--- it was so loud." -John Johnson
John turned to the messenger, and questioned, "Are you saying my daughter's death was a suicide?"  The messenger answered that the incident was still under investigation. The Johnsons retrieving their daughter's body from the airport, felt the irony of seeing Lavena in a pine box draped with the American flag. Linda Johnson recalls "---the last time I was here, she's running with open arms--- 'Hey Mom!' ---and this time she's in a box!" After a full report the Army ruled that she died of a self-inflicted wound. Immediately red flags went up for the Johnsons. A self-inflicted gun shot wound from an M-16 rifle? "Impossible!" they both said. "No way!" Further investigations would reveal LaVena's nose was broken, she had a dislocated shoulder, teeth were missing as though someone had brutally beaten her.

The worse of it all was her vaginal area was surgically removed. The pictures of the tragedy showed that LaVena was found in a contractors tent instead of her own quarters. And someone had tried to burn the tent down with her in it. This is tragically one of the greatest military scandal's and cover ups of any military soldier. It has been stamped "Case Closed" by the Army officials and remains a disgrace.


Only the best and the brightest are admitted to Marine Barracks in Washington DC. "The Best of The Best" was the Marine credo. And yet the tarp was yanked off a nest of sexual harassment, and rape that reached the media. What made this so shocking was Marine Barracks is just down the street from the Capitol Building. This Marine Barracks showcases the might and discipline of America's finest, handling everyone from the President, to dignitaries, plus security at the White House, and the splendor of the Silent Drill Team.

LT. Ellie Helmer
Being the "Best of The Best" apparently comes with plenty of ego, and the tenacity to believe that female officers are the object for sexual harassment and assault. Two cases of this outrageous behavior are showcased in the documentary, The Invisible War. Where on March 16, 2006, after The Silent Drill routine, and several rounds of drinks at the local pub, LT. Ellie Helmer had been coerced by her company commander to come to his office because he need to talk to Helmer about military related business. After reaching his office the commander attacked the female Marine, knocking her unconscious. When she came to and was wearing his underwear, she knew that she had been violated. After reporting the rape, NCIS could not find any evidence to substantiate her story. In return LT. Ellie Helmer was under investigation for public intoxication, and conduct unbecoming an officer. This was an obvious misogynistic cover up and smear campaign by the top brass again to silence another victim of sexual battery.

Marine Barracks is also known for it's drinking culture. Following another Silent Drill Team ceremony
Lt. Arianna Klay
in 2010, all Marines were ordered to "Happy Hour" after midnight which ended at 2 in the morning.  Lt. Arianna Klay was brutally attacked by a superior officer and his friend. The assailants threaten to kill her if she told anyone what happened.
"I think the thing that makes me the most angry was not even the rape in itself--- it's the commanders who were complicit in covering up everything that happened." -Arianna Klay
Although both assaults were reported, no one was ever convicted of these crimes.


 Images Of Broken Light 

Military sexual assaults have become a political football that has been kicked down the street with politicians attempting to give the appearance of making real changes but the needle of progress has barely moved on this issue. In fact it seems that victims have been reporting more in an attempt to prove they want justice to be done while the Pentagon grabs the Brass ring of Zero Tolerance, proclaiming their policies are working.   While even Claire McCaskill (D-MO) admits that rape and retaliation are "stubborn problems" her argument to avoid removing commanders from the decision to prosecute major crimes such as rape and murder remains in what she calls, "a lack of convincing evidence." And by removing the decision from commanders would remove their power to command their troops.
Ms McCaskill makes reference to Liz Holtzman and Mia Fernandez who both said they didn't see any facts to support Kirsten Gillibrand's MJIA Bill. This was amidst the swarm of sexual assaults, and testimonies from victims and advocates who all agreed the commanders were not vested in stopping sexual assaults in the military.

Pools of Sorrow

For the second time the Military Justice Improvement Act went down in defeat. While having enough traditional votes, they did not have the majority plus ten to avoid a filibuster. I fail to understand the harm or hurt it would do the military morale, to give victims the guaranteed right to justice without undue command influence. Is it military morale that is most important? Or is it commanders morale, and the fear that they will no longer be able to steer this issue into silence? I also wonder if those who believe in keeping commanders in charge of military sexual assault cases heard from witness like those who gave an account of a senior officer groping her and brushing up against her repeatedly.

Capt. Vicki Phipps 
"One of my senior ranking officers began brushing against me and touching me inappropriately I reported this to my commander, and he told me that I had two choices in this situation, he told me 'I can remove you for causes and end your career right now or you can find a way to deal with it.' The perpetrator was the officer that was responsible for the entire battalions training and mission readiness evaluations. was assaulted a total of three times and absolutely I do think the climate facilitated these crimes. I chose not to report them because I knew that if I reported at that point, my career was gone. I also witness what had happened to others in this unit reported sexual assaults. I saw several cases handled badly each victim was blamed; information about cases was not kept confidential and victims were branded as liars." 
-Vicki Phipps YouTube-Protect Our Defenders Published on May 29, 2015
The retired Captain tells of typical story of misogyny, sexual assault, and retaliation from the beginning to the end. She was assaulted at least 4 times. And in the damned if you report, and damned if you don't atmosphere, she and even others under her command, felt the slings and arrows of outrageous behavior from those who were in command. I wonder how those including Senator McCaskill seem to miss the fact that along with continue sexual assaults, even by Pentagon's tally, is now at 62 percent. Where is the good order? Where is the discipline commands tout loudly about?
Miranda Peterson, policy director of the military survivor advocate group Protect Our Defenders remarked about retaliation,

Miranda Peterson
"you would think that these numbers will be raising alarm and would result in effective action from military leaders but instead the Pentagon seems intent on downplaying the severity of this problem and discrediting victims. By labeling reports retaliation as perceptions are perceived retaliation the Pentagon is insinuating that victims are too sensitive to accurately interpret their own environment and that what's been reported as retaliation is actually exaggerated responses to harmless behavior, such as not being invited to parties or being unfriended on Facebook.
This approach shameful its offensive and it minimizes the extreme harassment and abuse that so many survivors are facing every day. --- Survivors frequently tell us that while the actual assault is devastating the betrayal a corrupt system and retaliation by both coworkers and commanders if even more traumatic." -Mranda Perterson YouTube-Protect Our Defenders Published on May 29, 2015


L-R US Rep Jackie Speier and Trina MacDonald
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand with Ginny Lee
So much has been debated; victims and advocates have trekked back and forth to Capitol Hill. They told their stories and to committees, while men and women still live in the shadow of this crippling issue. It seems that the needle to me has hardly moved. More victims will come, more rapes, ignored complaints and retaliations will continue, perhaps because Congress, and the military need to embrace the glory and pride of traditions at the cost of the men and women who have felt called to serve. Nothing is going to change for any of us, until the changes include the mindset of our leadership from the barracks and military bases to Capitol Hill on this issue.

Resources
YouTube
Protect our Defenders
NY Times
The Invisible Warrior

Special Thanks To Miss Victoria Sanders 
Kirsten Gillibrand
Stay strong. We're not done yet.




Thursday, June 4, 2015

It's Not Easy

Kara Danvers Discover that it's not easy to be a heroin the upcoming premiere of Supergirl 2015 DC Comics 

It May Sound Absurd

The Song "It's Not Easy" is a homage to the legacy of Superman. I heard it last week, but as it echoed through my mind, I thought of real live people who heroically take on the dirty task of speaking out against crimes of humanity such as rape. One of the things I like about previewing the new "Supergirl" series is that having abilities doesn't always work for you. A hero, much like an advocate, might sit in their apartment and count the cost. They wonder if what they're doing makes sense. Sometimes the things that can cripple worst that radioactive rocks are words. A friend of mine who is a professional therapist, admonished me "don't let their words take up rent in your head."  I'm reminded that if someone can reshape your narrative, then they don't have to do anything else. 


  But Don't Be Naive

Growing up in the 60's was a time before comics were cool. They were for young boys who love to read stories of the improbable. I was hung up on superheroes like a lot of my generation. But it was taboo to read them anywhere but in your bedroom. And they were considered brain damaging foolishness. In silence, I thought about the idea of being able to fight for truth and justice. I loved stories of men and women who could help the powerless, protect the weak, and fight crime and evil.

An array of Superheroes came into our homes in the 50s-70s (L-R) Lynda Carter deflecting bullets as Wonder Woman
George Reeves had the honor of being the first to leap tall buildings as Superman with girl reporter Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane, while Adam West,
Yvonne Craig, and Burt Ward offered up comic book Camp as Batman Batgirl and Robin. 2015 DC Comics
Of course this was all pretend. Little boys tied towels around their necks making swishing sounds like from "The Adventures of Superman TV show." Or they pretended to be like Batman and Robin. My Mom was so sick of us jumping around yelling "Biff! Pow and Zowie!" But that was our entertainment. We pretended to be the good guys. But then of course other things took their place eventually. Besides, real life heroes were suppose to be cops, firemen, lawyers, and elected officials. They kept our town safe. We out grew of comics to the extent that you could not find anyone to admit they watched camp shows like Batman on television.

Comics and Superheroes are out of the proverbial closet now. It's big business, partially because the characters are a little more 3 dimensional, moody, dark, and the stories have almost a soap opera feel to them where the good guys don't always finish first. But as silly and corny as Superman, Batman, and even Wonder Woman was, I was always fascinated with their untouchable sense of valor and not backing down from that old sense of right and wrong.

Even Heroes Have the Right to Bleed

Advocates against domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse, are just ordinary people with an extraordinary sense of social determination to see injustice, stand up, and call it out. They could be doing anything with their lives rather than speak to a truth that should be as obvious as the sun rising and setting. Some are advocates because something horrific such as rape, was their experience. Others are perhaps because of something that happened to a loved one.
The Royal Military College Of Canada
I'm reminded by my own experience of being an advocate, That it's not easy to be me. But this isn't about me. Just recently I read several articles from our Canadian neighbors to the north. In an effort to change the mindset of the cadet's attending the Royal Military about the ever increasing tide of sexual assault and harassment which plagues the prestigious academy, Julie LaLonde, a professional educator, was asked to give a
presentation on the subject. This was a well planned presentation with power point images to give the young men and women food for thought.

Educator and Advocate Julie Lalonde
Little did Julie realize, she had walked into a den of misogyny, as her presentation was pelted with "Whistles, catcalls, and laughter, from young cadets who would were suppose to be the the brightest and best. Julie says that she absolutely believes that she was sexually harassed by the Military College of Canada.
"The thing's I heard at the Royal Military College of Canada scared me, to think that people had those attitudes about women, about sexual violence, about their role as bystanders-"  -CBC News May 22, 2015
 Now I only know Julie through Twitter, but it's my guess, this wasn't her first rodeo, and the toxic atmosphere must have been pretty bad to take her by surprise. To be fair, some cadets did give push back to the stupidity, but apparently it didn't do much good and the harassment continued, which must have felt like an eternity.  The dressed up RMC rowdies yelled things such as "women who drink too much enable their own rape." As long as I live I don't think I'll ever get use to that narrative.  I've seen that in print, but to get an earful of it must have been stifling. They continued to argue about the "consent factor."  Apparently some of them like their women fall down drunk. To some thinking; an intoxicated female should be fair game, thus making the "Yes" thing null and void. Somehow, their "Game of Thrones" mentality continued as they doubled down on the harassment.  "I might have paid attention to you if you weren't a woman and a civilian." one cadet said, as he gave Miss LaLonde a slow looking over. Shaken as any of us might have been but apparently still undaunted, LaLonde refused to let the behavior go unreported. You'd have to wonder why it took 5 months for the college's Brigadier General Meimzinger to convey an apology.
Much to her credit, Julie continues to speak out with her presentation, as well as side-step ignorant misogyny on Twitter. The crude remarks continue obviously as an attempt to take her out of the fight that many of us as advocates endure.


You Can All sleep Sound Tonight

Superman dispatches justice to a domestic violence crimnal
in Action Comics 1 June 1939
As a kid, I thumbed through comics of imaginary characters who could grab bad guys and toss them in jail. In fact, in the very first Superman story back in 1939, he dispatches a wife beater! That's a pretty mature subject matter for the times. Today the heroes are flesh and blood people, who give their voice to and leadership against, crimes such as rape, harassment, domestic violence. and child abuse.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
These are people like Victoria Sanders, Retired Col. Don Christensen, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Zerlinda Maxwell. Kate Weber, and others who won't quit. It's not easy to be and advocate like Rosie Palfy, Terri Youngs, Monisha Rios. Linor Arbragail or Julie LaLonde.

Their special powers are: forging new laws such as the Military Justice Improvement Act, teaching and reaching society with the truth about rape in film documentaries, such as "The Invisible War," and "The Hunting Ground," and Miss Brave World."  writing blogs and books, like  "Missoula" and "Silence No More," or maybe
giving their voices against rape and sexual assault on the Internet, as well as the media. These are
Amy Zering Kriby Dick and the cast of The Invisible War
just a short list of the people who are on the side of advocacy for victims and survivors.

So thank you Julie LaLonde and all of you who speak for others. I know that it's not easy. But hopefully you know that you are needed and appreciated by many out in society and
in neighboring counties like Canada. Stay strong!









Special Thanks To:
@Deja1422   @Veracrusin and @RosiePalfy for flaging down news items and your on going support

Sources
CBC
@YouTube

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Scandal and a Few Good Women




VP questions an Ensign about an injury In Scandal episode "A Few Good Women"
Caution: This Blog contains spoilers 

Twitter was trending hot last Thursday about an upcoming episode of the ABC Show "Scandal." My
friends and fellow advocates were nudging me to tune in and check it out. I go through periods where I just don't watch TV because plots become too predictable or outlandish, or they ruin my love for a character, and then I just check out. "I'm done, finished, had enough." Skeptically, I tuned into the show because of 3 little words. "Military sexual assault." Once past the intro plot and opening credits they had me locked in. You see the fictional Madam Vice President was making a tour of the personnel on a Naval vessel the USS Montana. As she's making her way down the walkway of sailors, smiling and greeting them for the White House photo opt, she spies with her little eye, a female officer who has suspicious injuries.

Victim sitting at attention just within ear-shot of the conversation about her. 
The plot gets a little comical for a few minutes because the Lady Veep spirits the female officer away and then we're in the Oval Office where both the President Fitz Grant, and his sycophant yes-man Cyrus berate her even after she shares her suspicions of Officer Martin being raped by someone. We see the 1st Lieutenant sitting at attention just within ear-shot of the conversation. Her face was expressionless. You could only imagine she was thinking "What the hell am I doing here?" She's privy to the ranting and ravings of the 2 outraged men who yelled at the VP for her "Mama bear" move.  Susan Ross seems to know more about the issue than both of the these men who preen and strut the carpet.
Susan: --One in three women has been subjected to sexual assault. And if God forbid a servicewoman accuses a man of sexual assault and he's not found guilty, she get's prosecuted for filing a false report. You were in the navy, Did you know that?
 Fitz: I didn't. But what I do know is over two hundred years of historical precedent tell me that it is not our place to intervene in the Military Judicial system. 
Susan: She was raped and I know it isn't right!
 Both men hunched over and bug eyed tell Susan to "Put her back" with the comical under tones as though Susan had picked up a puppy out of someone's yard.
No doubt the nervous and scared Lieutenant wanted to get back to her duty station, and forget all the attention given to her. Perhaps in her mind (like many men and women in uniform,) they just want this to all go away. To talk about it to even well-meaning  people means to recall the nightmare again.

But undeterred the Lady Veep calls in reinforcements in the guise of  Olivia Pope and her crisis team who already have their hands full in another subplot.
Olivia Pope tells the JO that she will protect her and get justice for her
Olivia convinces the assault victim that they will do everything to keep her safe. She and her friend and ally Quinn, do a quick background check into both the victim and the perp. They find she (Lt Martin) has loved the Navy, and wanted to be a seaman since adolescence. and the alleged rapist is a four star admiral (John Hawley.) He and the Prez are pretty tight. Quinn reports: "He's celebrated, decorated,  Pretty much untouchable."

Not even the Press Secretary attempting a little girl talk over the hunks in Olivia's  life detours her team from taking this rapist down. Choking down her salad Abby says, "Awww...you're going to ruin my day---You're going to ruin the White House's day, aren't you?" As Olivia turns to leave she retorts, "Yes Abby, I am." It this point I'm amused and laughing to myself. The Washington big wigs and presidential staff is now about to play duck and cover.

When Olivia can't get any help from the powers that be, she holds a press conference with the USS Montana as a backdrop. That touches off a powder keg that has everyone from reporters to the First Lady asking what is the White House going to do about this.

Scandal 4x21 Fitz Does Not Want To Intervine
The First Lady wants to know if the White House is handling this. Click for video
First Lady: Please tell me we're handling this. We're handling this right?

Fitz: I thought you we're out campaigning.

First Lady: I was but then a story broke about a young naval officer who had been raped. And now the only thing that people want to ask me about is whether or not my husband is going to intervene on her behalf. Can I assume because we're not monsters, that the answer is yes?

Fitz: I can't intervene. It would send the wrong message.

First Lady: (Stunned) It would tell the world that we don't condone rape...

After her husband gives a half-hearted response, the First Lady turns on her heels and exits. If you're a supporter of our real life president, you'll be happy to know that this imaginary one doesn't resemble him in any way, shape, or form.

(Olivia Pope) Kerry Washington advocates for a military rape victim
At the inquest, the accused Admiral Hawley sits across the table stone faced and snarling at Olivia and her band of crusaders, calling her "a barnacle on the ass of every loser who cries boo-hoo," and denies being on board the ship the night of the attack. And their "Gee gosh golly" Jag Officer is about as appealing wilted lettuce. Obviously, Amy Martin, the victim, is scared as she is confined to the ship and given extra duties. Eventually, this rapist is brought to justice when some incriminating evidence is brought to surface, thanks to Olivia's friends and political aides who can't sit by any more. The story has some interesting twists and turns, plus a b-plot that I won't reveal for the sake of hardcore Scandal fans.
But hats in the air to Shondra Rhimes and her creative team for taking facts of military rape and sharing them with the viewers. It reveals how a serious crime like sexual assault can be covered up, and the many types who either ignore or take part in it.

This young Ensign Amy Martin is only imaginary, but she represents some real servicemen and servicewomen (past and present) who suffer in silence because of fear and shame especially if their assailant has rank or influence. Four Women came together in this scenario to get justice for a victim. They felt the outrage. It wasn't a complicated issue for them. The idea that our military and government should be so caviler about rape was well played out in the drama.  It show that justice for victims can be expressed through the idealistic forces that we bring about.
The TV Faces of Military Rape (L-R) CBS- NCIS Liz Holtan as Ensign Holly Farrell
NBC-Law and Order SUV: Shiri Appleby as Officer Amelia Albers and
ABC-Scandal: Emily Rios as Ensign Amy Martin

It is noteworthy while Hollywood seems to be getting in front of this issue with military sexual assault, hopefully the arts will deal with it from a man's perspective. There is so much to tell. But for now, this is a start. A very good start.

Resources
Scandal 2015 ABC Productions
You Tube Scandal 4x21 Fitz Does Not Want To Intervene "A Few Good Women"

Special thanks to: Barbara Jackson, and Twitter /Scandal Fans for the alert.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Can You See Me?

Clowns that only let you know
Where you let your senses go
Clowns all around you
It's a cross I need to bear

T.A.T.U.







*Warning: Contents could contain information that is offensive, or display trigger images.

The Rock Group T.A.T.U sing a haunting song about a flesh and blood person living in a purgatory of beings who see right through her. Her pain doesn't matter; she is not important. We all have that pursuit of happiness thing that we want to go for as much as possible. It's fun to party, drink, and go a little wild when studies are done. Or Vacation time is here for that working stiff who has kept their nose to the grindstone.  Sad that some people see Spring Break as a time to lose your mind and do something stupid to a young woman. The worse part about this attack, it wasn't any he-said she-said situation. Cause there were witnesses... A lot of witnesses.

I received a story from a friend on Twitter last week that stopped me dead in my tracks. It froze the blood in my veins, and then shot it back to a boiling point. A young woman, who was passed out on a public beach in Florida, was the victim of a public gang rape. The most chilling part of the whole story wasn't just the rape itself, but the fact that onlookers just stared and watched the whole scene, as if they were extras in a porn shoot. Some said the onlookers seemed more concerned about spilling their drinks than what was going on. Many with cell phones out, were actually recording the rape, but no one intervened. 

All This Weeping In The Air

"What's wrong with people?" my friend texted back. That has to be the question of the year. To stand there and watch this as though it's some form of free entertainment by a bunch of clown-types sends our respect for another person's well-being to the basement.

 Suspects sought in alleged Florida spring break gang rape
By Standers look on in alleged Florida spring break gang rape Youtube

Aside from several perps being arrested who were involved in this animalist frenzy, the only spot of mercy was that the victim did not see the faces of the bystanders looking on. At the most needed moment of her life, she was no more important than a character on TV, or a reality show. The revulsion I have for people who rape is unchallenged, unless it's in the bystander who looks is so close to what's going on, but not compelled to act in any manner. I'm not talking about the person who fears and then turns away or cowers in fear of their own safety, but the people who look on, with recorders and cell phones in hand, recording a crime for their own amusement. 
Somehow this incident was discovered by the police because of a shooting incident that was unrelated. Troy police were quick to condemn this act as disgusting and cowardly.

Panama City, Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen
"You need to wake up and see what's going on. This is what we see everyday. This is probably one of the most repulsive sickening things that I've seen on Panama City beach, and I've seen a lot of them.--- Within ten feet of where this is happening, there is hundreds of people standing there- watching, looking, seeing, hearing whats going on, and yet our culture, our society, and our young people, have gotten to the point where this is acceptable." 
April 12, 2015 CBS News CBSNews.com

Clowns All Around You

So with drinks in one hand and cell phone in another, gawkers with painted clown faces looked at the spectacle without a shred of empathy in their hearts or a sense of outrage in their minds. They never thought "This could have been me, or my daughter, sister, or best friend." Or even that this was a crime and someone should try and stop it.  It makes me pause to wonder what people see as fun or amusing. I'm amazed with all the attention that colleges have been getting about campus rape, that the students in this crowd actually thought that drugging and raping a woman in broad daylight on a public beach was a good idea.

There are times when people question if a real rape culture exists. Apparently many people are so mentally soaked with porn images, they either don't know the difference between (so-called) art form and reality. Maybe their attitude is "celebrities make porn movies... what the hell???" Now if you don't like my little connection with porn or not, then that's on you. But my main point still is that this rape flick was produced without the victim's knowledge. If some sleaze gets a hold of it, it will be easier to nail an omelet to a tree! All it takes is to capture the hearts and minds of one emerging generation and you can conquer it. Gene Roddenberry's classic
A Young Village woman has been sexually
 assaulted in Star Trek: Return of The Archons
Star Trek series illustrates a world that was out of order by a computerized mind called Landru who absorbed the inhabitant's will so as to live orderly lives, turning them into a Stepford Society. The people become mindless puppets. The parents hide, while the young people run wild, pillage destroy and even sexually assault one another in public. I wonder if we are becoming too programed by our passions in this century. Healthy sexual expression is good, but against another person's will or permission is still rape.

So I'm addressing this issue of bystander indifference to give people some pause to think. Rape is still a crime. But it is being perpetrated in broad daylight on victims, while crowds look on as though they are part of a new adopted theology of life. I usually write articles about the failing institutions and the system that ignores the rape culture or enables it. But when bystanders standby and feel no obligation to at least get involved at some level, then "we the people" need to remember that without liberty and justice for one, there is liberty and justice for none.

This issue is dedicated to the "unknown victim survivor" of the Spring Break, Panama City situation, and to others like her.  In the future I hope we will see them.



Resources

CBS News

Star Trek
Return of The Archons 1978 Paramount Pictures

Clowns (Can You See Me?)
Copyright: Universal Music Publishing Int. Mgb Ltd

Special Thanks to 
Vera SantaClara for twitter alert to this story
Hang in there kid. 
And Friends and Advocates
Rosie Palfy
Deja1422
Jipso19
James W. Weirick


Thursday, March 19, 2015

RESPECT



What you want, 
Baby I got it
What you need

Do you know I got it?
All I'm askin'
Is for a little respect when you come home


Otis Redding






The song has been performed, parodied, quoted at the drop of a hat. It was made popular by R and B singer Aretha Franklin. In spite of the "dance floor" tune, Respect is a word that we're all familiar with. Perhaps we know the word but I wonder if we "really" know it. It should be the cornerstone of all relationships even on the most casual level. And yet it seems to be missing in the way we live and interact with each other privately and socially. There remains the question "do I earn it to get it?" Or the reverse.

All I'm Askin' Is For...

10 Hours of Walking in NYC As a Woman
Some people think that their station in life, gender, race, or even age, puts all of the cards in their hands when it comes to respect. But shouldn't there be a level of respect that comes with just being a person? Does a woman walking down a busy public street deserve to be called out to and harassed? Should she be grateful for leering eyes and snide comments coming from gawkers of all sizes, ages, and races? Should she be be ashamed for not allowing strangers into her space, that tell her to smile as though she's 10 years old? Shamers and victim blamers push back accusing "feminists of over reacting to something they see as harmless." Just good healthy free speech expressions. In their minds, (from their vantage point) no one is really being harmed. This type of MRA will always blame the problem on what is called "rape culture hysteria."  That phrase puts the problem on the shoulders of a hyper group of screeching feminists. And then when the problem continues to escalate from leering to remarks we continue to ignore the messenger. "It ain't rape!" they say. Stop being so negative. A mind set continues in the workplace, in colleges, the military, and other institutions. They scoff and say to move along. Nothing to see here. Some how without basic human respect, they try to hide or mask the problem by ignoring it. Hoping that the wounded and advocates will just quiet down and go away.

Sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and child abuse happens when someone crosses the line of decency, at the cost of another human being. They don't care that to violate another person means they cause deep harm to that person's mental and physical well-being.


Roosh Vörek
Roosh Vörek who goes by Roosh V is a Male Rights advocate guru of sort. He advocates in his blog that there needs to be a way for men to legally rape the woman or women of their choice by decriminalizing rape. His attitude seems to be that if a woman consumes either drugs or alcohol in public, then society should protect an man's rights if he wants to sexually assault her. “By attempting to teach men not to rape, what we have actually done is teach women not to care about being raped, not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions.”
“I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property,” he continued. “I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds. 
Misogynist blogger: Make rape on private property legal- Raw Story-David Edwards February 13, 2015
Find Out What It Means To Me
Sadly Mr. Vörek thinks his contemplating this issue has lead him down the path to a great solution for men, and women. He devalues a woman's rights to drink socially, and dress the way she wants to. His solution is to allow men to rape promiscuous women, thus building better values into all women. I would laugh this off as ridiculous, except there are those who are drinking his crazy kool-aid.
He sees women as property, and not as human with the same inalienable rights.

Our first world country seems to be in a real shake-up because in some ways we are viewing this problem with no better attitudes than in third world countries. Our military has a better record for combating foreign enemies abroad, compared to its dismal record on sexual assault. Female troops have gone on record as saying they fear being raped by their comrades in battle more than the enemy in the theater. And to make matters worse both men and women have their experience in combat to back up their fears. Victims have remarked they had deep loyalty and respect for the fellow soldier, the uniform and the mission. After an attack the respect and trust is gone. When they took their issue to the chain of command, they are rebuffed, ridiculed, threatened, and sometimes raped again. If their was any respect for the institution before that, it's pretty much gone in many cases.

 USAF  Col. Don Christensen (R) prosecutes case of sexual assault of Kimberly Hanks (L)

In a killer of an article: The Military’s Rough Justice on Sexual Assault By NY Times. Robert Draper. November 26, 2014, we see how 2 people in the military fight for justice after being sexually assaulted. They are aided by a former prosecutor: USAF Col. Don Christensen can tell anyone about the level of disrespect a victim survivor receives in the military.  It's staggering, but not uncommon. If you remember the civilian Medical Technician Kimberly Hanks who was sexually assaulted in 2012 by Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. The guilty verdict was overturned by General Craig Franklin. The blaten and callous disregard of respect for the victim reverberated throughout Washington, DC.

In the same article, the Military doubles down on its' disrespect for rape victims when another survivor-victim came
USAF chose to respect perpetrator over Anonymous Survivor Kris 
forward, and named her attacker. Kris (anonymously) went from being one of the guys in her squadron, now an outcast she was ostracize as a trouble maker, while her attacker, Captain David Brooks received strong support, even visits from his commander while in jail.
In the year since the assault, Kris had fallen into a kind of limbo. While most of her fellow aviators had been moved up to new positions, she was overlooked. She eventually requested a lateral move to another department to get away from her difficult situation. “I was put on a shelf,” she said, adding that she has been socially isolated. “Since this happened, no one in the squadron invites me to do anything. And I don’t think I ever will be invited.”
The writer of the piece continues to quote Kris in this article: Her hurt was barely restrained as she continued in a jumble of thoughts: “They were my friends. We were family. It’s like parents with two kids — how do you choose? Both of these officers and no one's gentlemen are separated from the service. But evidence of the Good-Old-Boy's culture remains in this institution. The Pentagon has been dragging its feet on this issue since the Tailhook scandal erupted in the 1990's. Even with much of the reform passed into law, we still want to keep rapists in our institutions and dismiss survivors.


RESPECT... Take Care of TCB
Maybe the scariest part is when you're a survivor-victim of rape and the ones who are called to protect and serve you would rather do exactly the opposite. An 18-year-old girl living in our nation's capital was raped at the age of 11 in 2008. When she reported her attacks, Danielle Hicks-Best was arrested for filing a false report. The Metro police did it on the basis they believed that Danielle was lying and had consented to sex with several adult men. Inspite of the fact she was able to lead the police back to the scene of where the rape had taken place and there was evidence from the rape kit that Danielle had been assaulted.  The detective, William Weeks of the Youth Investigations Division believed the rapist story that Danielle said she was sixteen and would have sex with any man in the house. He was never arrested or charged with as much as statutory rape. But after several hours of interrogating, the victim in the same clothes she had been assaulted in, Weeks charged her for filing a false report because her story kept changing.
Although a rape kit once again showed that she had been sexually assaulted, Weeks went to the Office of the Attorney General and requested a custody order so he could charge her with making a false police report, which was granted. Weeks then marked the child sexual abuse case as “closed.” DC police admit botching 11-year-old girl’s rape case Raw Story Tom Boggioni March 3, 2015  
   
Figure this one out for yourself: A young girl gets raped and she's going to have a clear head about the facts? I would like to know first hand what made the detective in this case hand her over to be arrested? Unless there is new evidence to uncover, how this young girl who was 11 years at the time, could legally give consent, this is a total fail on the part of the police department and the people who handled her case. Where was the respect for this young girls rights? Hopefully as the Metro Police reopen this case, they can compensate Danielle in some way. Give her another shot at justice.

Respect is a mindset that we all need for each other. If the institutions feel they don't have respect from the public on an issue such as rape, you might want to ask why? As a young writer recently said in her article in the NY times:
Believing survivors is not just the right thing to do. It’s the best thing to do if we want to stop sexual violence. Wagatwe Wanjuki, New York Times December 12, 2014

Resources
NYTimes.com  Believing Victims Is the First Step

Special Thanks To My Twitter Friends
Deja 1422 
Rosie Palfy 
 Vera Santa Clara
James Warrick

For your leads, insight, and laughter!





 The Hunting Ground Trailer
Click Here for one of the most important films ever made


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The First Cut



"The first cut is the deepest
Baby, I know the first cut is the deepest
But when it comes to being lucky he's cursed
When it comes to loving me he's worst"

Cat Stevens






I recently hears Sheryl Crow sing this tune about the reality of personal pain. And although the lyrics are about the pain of betrayal from a man, the same might be said about giving your heart and trust to an institution, such as the military. A place that you've set your sights on since you were in high school like a university. You dedicate yourself and believe in the principals of discipline and work and honor. You embrace it like a sweetheart.

 All Of My Heart

You're a bright eager recruit stepping off the bus with your suitcase and walking through the gates of the military base. You're anxious but determined to be one of the best. It's all new. You're called a mama's boy, or a daddy's girl, and other names you couldn't repeat around the family meal.  But it's cool. All the screaming and cursing won't break you. It's all a head game. "Okay I bought into this so bring it!" You jump when you're told to, eat, crawl on your stomach, salute, stand, sit, and whatever. You're even use to the DI's threat's. In fact you know its all a head game. So you relax a little and reassure yourself "I'm going to do this, I'm going to become a soldier!" Until one day out of nowhere, your superior or supervisor corners you. He tells you what he want's. You've been conditioned to obey orders no matter what. Your military career will go over off a cliff if you don't submit. Afterwards you're told "Don't you breath a word of this! Or I'll send your ass back to civilian life in a heartbeat!" You keep quiet about the incident but all the time you feel the numbness, the confusion every time you see his face, "It could happen again" you think to yourself. Everything you thought that this institution had to offer has turned rotten. These are the feelings of many women and men who have been cut to the core by the military or other institutions.

But There's Someone Who's Torn It Apart

Stars And Stripes featured a story about how a sexual predator maneuvered his way through the ranks. He started out as a soldier with promise, but there were warning signs and red flags that Staff Sgt. Angel Sanchez was trouble from the beginning.


Staff Sgt. Angel Sanchez 
A first sergeant who wrote a recommendation letter in favor of Sanchez’s being selected as a drill sergeant candidate said Sanchez was the best non-commissioned officer “he had ever served alongside,” an investigator noted.
But once Sanchez was selected, junior-ranking soldiers wondered how long it would take before he would be accused of sexually harassing female trainees, according to investigation documents.- 
By Jesse Bogan St. Louis Post-Dispatch Published: January 15, 2015
Sanchez was also adept at finding his way around standards and policies, and avoiding detection from other eyes. He could pass the alarm system that separated male and female barracks on the base making his way into the women's barracks at night. Sexual assault and rape is devastating at any level, whether its peer on peer, or a subordinate attack. But the deeper cut comes when someone of higher rank who should have high integrity and trust, violates that honor. They treat a trainee as though they have the right to their very body and soul. When a ranking soldier or commander crosses that line from trust to betrayal, they have sold out the uniform they wear and everything it represents. Like many others, Sanchez totally discounted the ruin and devastation they leave in their path.
Retired Army Brigadier General Dr. Loree Sutton 

Dr. Loree Sutton a retired Army Brigadier General and Psychiatrist states the effects of the devastation like this:  "Its akin to what happens in a family with incest ---because in the military when we're functioning at our best, a cohesive unit, ---you know the band of brothers and sisters-- I mean we are family; when that bond of trust is violated, the wound penetrates to the most inner part of one's soul--- one's psyche." 

If you follow that reasoning, can you imagine the knife continuing to plunge into a life as he or she is denied by the very institution they are committed to. You relive the experience of the trauma day and night. It comes to you in your sleep, or stabs your thinking during lapse times in your daily routine, until to decide to tell your superiors. Their reactions range from calling you a liar who is trying ruin a good man's career, to someone with mental problem, Maybe a precondition you had before joining. You question yourself as well. "Why didn't I keep this to myself? Or Maybe I brought this on myself. It's all my fault!"  You become part of the problem because you dared speak out. And then finally you're considered unfit to serve. The destruction of thrust is complete. No one wants to help. You're met with retaliation or either harassment or silence as many before you were.


When It Comes To Loving Me He's Worst

Many Veterans with MST (Military Sexual Trauma) have said their biggest fear did not come from the enemy on the battle field but from the very comrades within the ranks.  Rebekah Havarilla testified before the The Military Personnel Subcommittee of The Senate Armed Services Committee:

"My deployment brought more than just the stress of occupational hazards. During my tour, one of my team leaders continuously sexually harassed me and was sexually abusive towards me. This behavior caused me so much anxiety that I ended up self-referring to mental health and on medication to manage not just the stress of my deployment, but also the stress of having to live with an abusive leader and co-worker. One week before my unit was scheduled to return back to the United States, I was raped by another service member that had worked with our team. Initially, I chose not to do a report of any kind because I had no faith in my chain of command as my first sergeant previously had sexual harassment accusations against him and the unit climate was extremely sexist and hostile in nature towards women. After disclosing my rape to a few close friends, I ended up filing a restricted report sixty days before I left active duty against both my rapist and my team leader, but had no intentions of ever doing a formal investigation."  And to add insult to injury a military Chaplin told Harvarilla that the rape was all God's will.  -Military Sexual Assault Victims Testify Before Congress ABC News March 13, 2013

Can you imagine living or working in the worse possible situation, with the very fear that you will be attacked at any time of the day or night, by a co-worker or your boss? Do you know what that does to your spirit, your inner drive as a person, that you are potential prey for someone else. And with the daily sexual harassment and mind games being played, you live in the pit of twisted fear and wondering if today will be the day. In the chilling aftermath of the events, no one will believe you, and even blame you for bringing it on yourself. It's as though the institution (military in this case) has given cart blanche to a crime which they refuse to acknowledge or stop.

While trolls attack this issue with crazed anger, contempt and victim blaming, the deepest cut comes from either higher ups in charge, who say things like "it looks like you had a rough roll in the hay..." -Terri's Story of Surviving Military Sexual Assault. Jan 10, 2012  or even family members who say to you just "stay quiet and get through boot camp---" Rape survivor Melissa Davis was given that same advice, because there was no one who would help her. She was caught between a rock and hard
Former Army Specialist Melissa Davis
place. There hard place was her own chain of command. And inside that chain of command was the man who raped her multiple times because he was her first sergeant. She didn't dare speak out because of the threats to her and her husbands careers, because terror was the way to keep victims in check in the military. Young women and men who have gone into a system that is suppose to hold up true ideals of what it means to be an American, have been brutally disappointed by a system that refuses to advocate for justice when their lives are interrupted. Just maybe if the system wasn't so broken and vile, maybe you wouldn't need advocates like me to speak out on behalf of the invisible warriors.

After Melissa's husband died in an auto accident, she left the Army. Melissa went from victim, to survivor, to advocate. She finally spoke out through her writings in a book "Silenced No More." Her Pen name was Stormie Dunn.  The book tells the story of her own sexual assault, as well as two other victims. The book gave Melissa the courage to tell what happened to her and why it is not good to just keep silent.  In 2014 she along with other advocates testified before a federal advisory committee conducting an independent review of the systems for handling cases of adult sexual assault in the military.
Melissa was also a strong advocate Kirsten Gillibrand's MJIA bill, removing the chain of command as the convening authority in prosecuting cases.



In Memory

Melissa "Missy" Davis passed away on January 31, 2015 (just last month), while recuperating from stomach surgery. She fought a good fight in the advocacy for victims of military sexual trauma. She will be sorely missed by her family and friends, as well as other advocates.

Melissa Ann "Missy" Davis Advocate Friend and Warrior
Passed away January 31, 2015
Thank you Melissa for your heart, and courage, to say what more of us should be saying. We love you and will miss you dearly."
This Author
Resources
YouTube
Protect Our Defenders
NBC- The Today Show
ABC News
St. Louis Post Dispatch