Sexual assault in U.S. military reflects culture of bullying

Stop the Bully

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 19 (UPI) — The acceptance of bullying in U.S. culture contributes to sexual assault in the armed forces, experts say.

Mary Ellen O’Toole, editor-in-chief of Violence and Gender and retired FBI profiler and criminal investigator analyst led a roundtable discussion with Christopher Kilmartin of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Col. Jeffery Peterson of Center for Naval Analyses in Alexandria, Va., discussed specific factors that likely contribute to the sexual assault problem.

“The evidence is that the population of people who come into the U.S. military have more experience with sexual assault than the general population, both as offenders and as survivors. Survivors are at statistically increased risk of being revictimized, and offenders are at an increased risk for reoffending,” Kilmartin said at the roundtable.

Read more here.

VOR America: Jennifer Norris Discusses Sexual Misconduct in the Military (2014)

California Guard Tries to Serve Firing Papers to Member After Suicide Attempt

Air National Guard SealThe California National Guard tried to serve termination papers to one of its members in the hospital just hours after a suicide attempt last month, the Investigative Unit has learned.

Those close to Jessica Brown, a master sergeant with Moffett Field’s 129th Rescue Wing, say they believe the move is retaliation for exposing what has been described as a toxic culture inside the Guard. Last November in front of NBC Bay Area cameras, Brown criticized her leaders for failing to properly handle a sexual assault she says happened to her while on duty in Las Vegas.

“To me, it felt like it would be better if I was dead,” Brown said in the November interview. “I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wasn’t sleeping again, and when I did sleep the nightmares were so bad.”

See video here.

Misconduct or PTSD? The Impacts of Not Treating Soldiers After War

Source: Department of Veteran Affairs

Source: Department of Veteran Affairs

Iraq war vet who murdered park ranger before freezing to death in snow was stationed at U.S. Army’s most troubled base (Jan 2012)

Soldier wrote Facebook suicide note before Springs crash (Jan 2012)

Experts: Vets’ PTSD, violence a growing problem (Jan 2012)

US Military Suicides Continue to Climb, Reaching Record in 2012 (Jan 2013)

Suicidal Man Shot by Police was Veteran with PTSD (Jan 2013)

Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets (Jan 2013)

PTSD is an epidemic for military vets and their families (Jan 2013)

PTSD-Related Suicide Hits Close to Home (Jan 2013)

Afghan massacre: Sgt Bales case echoes loudly for ex-soldiers on hotline for vets (Jan 2013)

PTSD suicide more deadly to American Soldiers than combat! (Jan 2013)

To be continued…

Where are the loopholes in the Military Justice system?

1. Recruiters hold positions of trust & authority and are usually working independently of others. They have the unique ability to use their position to control a new, young, recruit who may be naive to how predators operate. Rule #1: They should never be alone with any new recruit, ever. These are the kind of positions that are attracting rapists because they have easy prey. Need strict guidelines where this is concerned considering how much they have taken advantage of the autonomy given to them. Not all recruiters are rapist but you will find that a rapist will flock to a position like this because of the autonomy and lack of oversight in general.

What do you do if your military recruiter sexually assaults you?

Are you going to report and risk losing a career that never started or report this person?

If you have not yet joined the military, who cares for you since it didn’t occur on Active Duty?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to report to civilian authorities? Where does Commander fit it?

What happens to your career if you report that your recruiter raped you? Is it delayed?

How do you prove it wasn’t consensual if DNA can prove that contact was made?

How do we overcome the ‘he said, she said’ MO that normally occurs as a result of sexual assault?

Air Force: Air National Guard Recruiter Rapes New Recruit

Army: Sexual Abuse by Military Recruiters

Marines: Marine Recruiter Accused of Assaulting 2 Recruits

2. Basic Training Instructors/Drill Sergeants

Scenario: Attacked at 19 by an Air Force Trainer, and Speaking Out

Scenario: Retired APG general: The players change, the ‘GAM’ remains the same

Scenario: Army PFC Details Sexual Assualt by Drill Sergeant During Basic Training

3. Technical School/AIT Instructors

Scenario: Sexual Assault at Keesler Air Force Base

4. Peers

Scenario: Kelso High grad takes on Air Force after daughter reports rapes

5. Supervisors

6. Commanders/Generals

USMC: After sex assaults inside military, women are victims again of legal system

National Guard: Alleged Cover Up of Sexual Harassment Sinks Vermont General’s Career

7. Chaplains

Scenario: Army chaplain convicted in Internet sex case

8. Sexual Assault Response Coordinators/Personnel

9. Office of Special Investigations, Criminal Investigation Division, etc.

Scenario: Spies, Lies, and Rape in the Air Force: An Undercover Agent’s Story

10. Medical Personnel

11. Military Prosecutors

Scenario: Marine sex-assault prosecutor accused of touching woman inappropriately

12. Service Academies (Future Commanders/Generals)

Navy: Sexual assault reports double at the Naval Academy

All Academies: Reported sex assaults leap 23 percent at US military academies

To be continued…

What Are the Impacts of Stalking or Cyberstalking on a Veteran with PTSD: The Take Down

Cyberbullying

When I was serving in the military I learned that the art of ‘the take down’ was perfected. I witnessed it at every base I was stationed at and I was the odd man out because I confronted them about it. The first take down occurred after I reported sexual assaults to my Commander. My peers and Chain of Command engaged in a campaign of retaliation in an effort to push me out. The second take down occurred when I started holding others accountable for gender discrimination, harassment, and abuse; more retaliation because I was one of those girls who reported and thought she could do a job in maintenance, a man’s job.

The third take down occurred after I was backed into a corner by a Senior NCO with his finger in my face during an Operational Readiness Exercise. Instead of punching him in the face because he triggered my fight or flight response, I instead walked away and gave in to how the PTSD was out of my control if threatened in any way.  How could it not? After years of belittling treatment by supervisors and other leaders, of course one is going to begin believing that something is wrong with them and the confidence is going to be impacted. It greatly affects your self-esteem to give something everything you got only to have them ignore the whole person concept in an effort to get rid of you. It’s a coordinated effort by a gang of people determined to break your will.

What happens when they break your will? After they break your will, you are constantly looking for a way to escape the way they are making you feel. To some of us the only way to escape is suicide or AWOL. We cannot leave that particular organization without the permission of the Commander. If the Commander is part of the problem, you have no choice but to suck up whatever they dole out. I think feeling trapped under the leadership of those who you do not trust is contributing greatly to the PTSD, depression, anxiety, and drinking prevalent among our servicemembers.  When you start drinking to self-medicate your symptoms, it only seems to make things worse. But it is understandable why so many turn to alcohol in the military because if they want, military leadership can use getting help and taking medications against you in an effort to end your career.

The take down in the military is in and of itself a form of harassment, bullying, and stalking. Once they have you in their target, you can do no right and anything you did do right doesn’t matter one iota.  The whole person concept goes out the door.  It appears that you are safe when you are an airman (except in Basic & Technical Training) because you are in training but once you become an NCO or a leader, everything you do it magnified. No matter how hard I worked, how many people I trained, or how loyal and dedicated I was, it didn’t matter after they decided that I had to go. I was forced out of by these gangs at each squadron I was stationed at. I find it interesting that I should go through the same treatment at all three bases I was stationed at.

In the end, I had no control over the situation. I just had to suck up what they were doling out regardless of justice or rights or ethics. It didn’t matter what I thought. There were at least three other people in my Chain of Command that could easily tag team and do whatever they wanted. I had no where to turn. The first time I turned to my Commander and the squadron retaliated against me for reporting the violent crimes. The second time I called them out on discriminatory practices, and they proceeded to present me with paperwork that only strengthened my case. The final place I worked, after they found out that I was a victim of military sexual assault and had been diagnosed with PTSD, they swiftly began a campaign to end my career. Why? I was seeking treatment for military sexual trauma and was taking a small dosage of Prozac temporarily.

Since getting into advocacy, I have been targeted by cyberbullies and cyberstalkers. It began in June 2013 and is still happening to this day. It triggered my PTSD because it felt like the same kind of take down I experienced while serving at all three squadrons. It didn’t matter how good a job I did, someone decided that they didn’t like me and I then had no control over the situation. Everything was fine one day then all of a sudden because I had the nerve to hold them accountable, I had to go. It’s not supposed to work like that. How does that benefit the person or the taxpayer in any way? If you have a horrible leader in charge of 200 good soldiers and they decide they don’t want to deal with you any longer, all they have to do is initiate a campaign looking for the negative that conveniently outweighs all the years of good work. It happens all the time. We have no where to turn to hold these leaders accountable. So our lives hang in the balance while we wait for them to make their decisions.

Just like cyberstalking on the internet, there is not a whole lot you can do about it until your life has been threatened. In my case, I think the campaign was successful at pushing me to kill myself. I had thoughts of dying to escape what the cyberstalkers were saying and doing to me but God wants me here for some reason. Until he wants me to go, I am trying to honor his desires for me and my future. He knows that I have a good heart, care about others, and want those who are not kind to be held accountable for their behavior. We are not asking for much here. All of these people have demonstrated a pattern of escalation of their behavior because they have not been held accountable.

Was it in the best interest of the Air Force for me to leave my position. Oh hell no. I had 14 years when they initiated medical discharge. I was eligible for E-7 and their decision to push me out the door may have benefited my health in the end but it definitely didn’t benefit the taxpayer in the least bit. I was planning on staying for as long as they would have me. I was striving for Chief. But this is not possible as long as you have people in charge who have the power to make career ending decisions. It’s as if they are just looking for the excuse to get rid of you while you watch new younger airman walk through the door.  I tried to be absolutely perfect so they never had any dirt on me. It didn’t matter, they would just make something up. Every single person should be held accountable for their actions in the military and on-line. They must be held accountable for the reckless damage they cause to the person they intend to take down.

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The Real News: Senate Unanimously Passes Sexual Assault Bill, But What Will it Change? (2014)

Jennifer Norris: Senate bill will still keep military sexual abuse cases within the chain of command of the military, leaving victims vulnerable to retaliation

The Resentful Stalker featured on Stalked: Someone’s Watching

20140310-231220.jpgDid you watch Stalked, A Virtual Nightmare, on Investigation Discovery tonight? If not, you missed out on an important lesson for those whose on-line presence is a must for the line of work they are in. Tonight’s episode featured a women striving to make it in the music industry. Stalked features different accounts of individuals who have been targeted. Dr. Michelle Ward discusses the different kinds of stalkers. This episode featured the resentful stalker. Once the resentful cyberstalker targets you, they will stop at nothing to see that you are destroyed personally and professionally. The resentful stalker picks you because they want what you have and can’t get it fairly. The resentful stalker makes it their life goal to slander, stir the pot, make things up, make others angry, and mess with your head. If you have PTSD, you are especially sensitive to these kind of attacks because this is how some of the toxic leadership treated military members who reported crimes or unethical behavior. After a few months of this, it will have an impact on you psychologically because after experiencing the abuse over and over, eventually they will succeed in breaking your will. If you are not sure who is doing what to you, it is difficult to address it and do something about it. Once you do learn who is targeting and stalking you, it is empowering and helps give you the will to fight back. This was clearly displayed in tonight’s episode of Stalked: Someone’s Watching on Investigation Discovery.

Jeremiah Arbogast

Latest cyberattack occurred on March 9, 2014

I too have been targeted by a cyberstalker and for months I could not figure out where the coordinated attacks were coming from. I did notice a pattern though. Every weekend something big would happen on-line that would in turn send my PTSD through the roof. Until six months later, I learned who was involved. I was stunned to learn that it wasn’t a complete stranger or one of the many military rapists I call out but instead it was a coordinated effort by a group of people in the “MST Facebook Community.” This was the epitome of betrayal to me. While they were laughing at my demise, I was experiencing increased anxiety, depression, nausea, confusion, and wanting to give up. It drove me mad speculating who was behind the random & coordinated attacks and the constant inquiries from clients and friends asking if I was okay triggered me because I knew that something else was written on-line. I didn’t even want to know what they said. I was so distrustful that I shut down my Jennifer Norris public Facebook page to escape the daily terror which included people pretending to be my friends (moles) or fake clients to outright slanderous, abusive attacks from those who call themselves ‘advocates’. In the background, I created a new private Facebook page and would not accept any friend requests from someone I had never met in my life. I was in protection mode so that I could maintain my strength to focus on my volunteer work with active duty and veterans. It took too much energy trying to figure out who was trustworthy, healthy, and safe. Finally, one day a friend, who knew me well and cared enough to let me know that I was indeed being targeted by a group of people, sent me a conversation she witnessed on Facebook. After reading through it, everything became so clear. I wasn’t being paranoid. People were really after me. I was so relieved to learn this information so I could find closure to this private hell. The lead character in my demise admitted to contacting people and telling them I was bullying him in an effort to discredit me. This cyberstalker was blocked on all social media sites for months in an effort to escape his ill treatment of me and others. How does one bully the supposed victim & stalk someone when they have them blocked on every social media site? He contacted combat veterans, organizations, Facebook pages, Facebook groups, media, movie directors, and Congressional members and proceeded with his smear campaign. Why? What is his motive? Feel bad for the guy in the wheelchair who shot himself and is being bullied by women veterans with severe PTSD? Does that even make sense? But it was working. No one dares stand up to the guy who claims to be the victim and has attempted ‘suicide’ in the past. I guess destroying my character to others pushed me out of what he believed was his calling. I don’t care why he did it. There is no excuse for this hateful & abusive behavior, especially towards another veteran with military sexual trauma. 20140310-233640.jpg Much like the episode of Stalked tonight, it wasn’t until she hit a rock bottom that she finally decided that she was going to take the power back. I did just that when I decided to start calling these ‘internet trolls disguised as survivors’ out. You did succeed in beating me down for awhile but I fought back and turned to the professionals to help me deal with your emotional & verbal abuse and its impact on PTSD. Facebook can be a suicidal trigger for some with PTSD. It wasn’t until I learned exactly who was doing what that I could address it. The truth has set me free. Hopefully, we can prevent them from doing this to others as well.

Clear Pattern of the Army Tossing Soldiers Who Have PTSD

The Wounded Platoon

The Wounded Platoon (PBS)

Day after day I hear first hand accounts of not only the Army but all of the Armed Forces forcing troops out for PTSD or some trumped up misconduct charge. And what really gets my goat is that these are people who have been in the military for a long time, have deployed overseas, and now suffer from some kind of war injury. Is this the way that you envisioned the military would treat our troops after all that they have sacrificed.

I find it ironic that Officers who get caught with felony charges can quietly retire after the media blows it up to hold them accountable. Yet a soldier who has been in 19 years, did four rotations overseas, and snapped on the fourth rotation because you sent them there knowing they had PTSD, gets the bad conduct discharge. This is criminal. How dare you Army do this to someone with 19 years of dedicated service. What happened to the whole person concept? Why is it that a fight or flight response is now being used against a soldier when the symptoms include disassociation, irritability, distrust, fear, etc. Why is it that you act like people are faking when they just did four tours of duty.

Continue reading

Military Justice Improvement Act Falls Short of Votes & Substance

The MJIA fell short of the votes it needed to pass in Congress. But it’s really nothing to get upset about because the bill falls short of substance.

The MJIA had good intentions. It gave the victim a different place to report other then an immediate supervisor or the Commander. It would have allowed victims to report to a military prosecutor instead. The bill also included all violent crimes, ie sexual assault, domestic violence, and murder.

But in reality, how is that going to work? There aren’t enough military prosecutors to report to. There was one, maybe two in the State of Maine JAG office and they were located hours if not days away from some of the places we trained and deployed.

The Commander atleast is going to have to be privy as to why their troop is absent. They also need to know if they have an alleged rapist in the ranks. We can never completely remove the Commander but we can hold them accountable.

We can ask them to mind their own business, keep the information confidential until further action must be taken, and provide an environment supportive for the victim. That includes allowing the victim take some leave, get the help they need, deal with the legal process, and transfer if necessary.

A military prosecutor can simply prosecute a case. Why don’t we refer those who have been harmed to the police to make a statement then to a hospital for DNA evidence collection. The Commander is going to have to know what is going on with the troop if they are absent or will be forced to push Absent Without Leave (AWOL).

We need a system in place that ensures these Commanders treat people with respect and do not take action that compounds the acute stress in any way. If the Commander is not supportive, then they are part of the problem and the soldier needs a safe place to turn where they know their communications are confidential. How do we hold a Commander who behaves criminally or unethically?

Claire McCaskill’s military justice bill keeps everything status quo but does give us some additional layers of protection that provide some checks and balances. Until it is implemented, we cannot determine if these measures will work either. For example, have they accounted for corrupt military prosecutors or rogue OSI agents? What about an inspector general who is drinking buddies with the leader accused of wrongdoing.

Based on the work I have done with active duty in the past three years, I can say with the greatest of convictions that the military justice system itself is broken. This is definitely not the Commander’s fault. We are trained to be warfighters not to police our own. We need an objective third party that oversees helping our troops get justice, care, and help with moving on with their career seamlessly.

We should not lose our careers simply because we reported a violent crime. We should not be retaliated against because we are trying to hold a criminal accountable. How do we attack the internal beat down from our peers after the rapist claims that we made it all up or changed our minds?

We are not reporting for a number of reasons. Reporting to a prosecutor is not going to protect us from the situation we may be faced with. We may have been raped by a supervisor or maybe even the Commander. Someone is going to have to help us navigate being a military member who was the victim of a crime. Why don’t we just utilize the existing law agencies in place so we can work together on catching these violent criminals?

The nationally based, Crime Victim’s Organization says the following: “with solid support and information, many sexual assault victims do choose to participate in prosecution of an offender”