First and foremost: THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SHOWING YOUR SUPPORT. It is exciting to see so many Coast Guardsmen and women, especially those on Active Duty, who are as fed up as I am with the rape epidemic in the Coast Guard and are willing to stand up and help end this problem. This gives me hope that one day the sexual abuse epidemic in the Coast Guard can be a thing of the past.
I am the Executive Director of the Military Rape Crisis Center, an organization that I founded while still on Active Duty with the Coast Guard so that I can help my fellow shipmates who been sexually victimized. My team and I can only do so much. We can help survivors recover from sexual violence and get them the benefits and support that they need and deserve. We can continue to advocate members of the Congress to help pass policies that would protect Coast Guardsmen and women that are raped. However all of this is after the fact. What we can not do is stop rape.
Only those that are wearing the uniform of the United States Coast Guard can end rape in the Coast Guard.
If you are in the Coast Guard here are some ways you can make the Coast Guard a safer place by eliminating rape:
-Watch out for your shipmates. Make sure that one does not slip a date rape drug into a drink. If you are aware of someone that plans on using drugs to rape a member of the Coast Guard –or anybody at all- please speak out and report them.
-Speak Up: Even if you may never see a rape in progress you might hear jokes and language that is inappropriate and degrades women. When your shipmate tells a joke about rape, tell him it is not funny. Joking about rape or sexual violence isn’t being funny: he’s perpetuating rape culture. If you laugh right along with him – rather than calling him out, or even just making a point of not laughing — so are you.
-Support survivors. I can not tell you the numbers of Coast Guard rape survivors that came to me over the years afraid to report a rape because they have witnessed or heard of mistreatment of other Coast Guardsmen that reported rape and don’t want to be treated the same way. Every rape not reported out of fear of being retaliated against=a rapists that might rape again and hurt another Coast Guard member. Don’t be the reason why your shipmate do not report a rape. Support those that are brave enough to come forward. Be sensitive to their needs. If you witness others spreading hurtful rumors about a rape survivor speak up and put an end to it. It not only helps the rape survivor that so bravely came forward to report their assault but also help survivors in the future who might feel a bit more comfortable reporting an assault if they know that they would be treated fairly and with respect.
-Never blame the victim. Victim blaming is one of the most terrible things anyone can do, and if Coast Guard officers or those in leadership roles do it, the rest of the crew tend to think that it’s okay.
-Look out for your shipmates. Everyone has the right to go out, drink and have fun (assuming that they are of age). If you are out with a shipmate that might have had a bit too much to drink take them home. Don’t allow them to leave with a stranger or alone. If you witness someone trying to use alcohol as a tool to rape someone help protect the victim and report the offender.
-Don’t ever have sex with anyone against their will–No matter what. This might sound a bit obvious but since one in three women and one in ten men in the military are raped it sadly need to be mentioned.
If you have any other suggestions or if you are a survivor of sexual abuse and need somebody to talk to contact me at email@example.com or by phone at 802-578-4769.
Coast Guard Rape Survivor