Survivors of sexual violence in the U.S. military speak out
Carla Butcher joined the Navy within days of 9/11, and soon shipped out for Malta. But during her first hours there, she was raped by a fellow sailor — and spent the remainder of her four years in the service battling both post traumatic stress disorder and a military justice system that seemed set up to prove she was the guilty party.
Turns out, the man she turned in had already been accused by two other military women, one of whom had been flown home just two weeks before she arrived. And the other, she said, had committed suicide.
Yet under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Butcher couldn’t even refute the female defense attorney who got up at the accused sailor’s trial and described her as someone “in four-inch heels and tight jeans who wanted it.’’
“I just had to suck it up,’’ said Butcher, because “if I’d said I don’t even sleep with men — I’m a lesbian — I’m the one who would have been out with a dishonorable.’’ In the end, the argument that the sex had been consensual was believed, and the accused went free yet again, just as he’d predicted he would, while her military career was over before it started.
All wrong, right?
And worse, a hotel ballroom in Washington on Tuesday was packed with women like Butcher.