News / USA

US Military Sexual Assault Victims Heal, Discuss Policy

Military Sexual Assault Victims Heal, Discuss Policyi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Carolyn Presutti
May 08, 2012 11:09 PM
Women and men from all branches of the US military spoke out in Washington Tuesday about sexual assault in the ranks. They were all military sexual assault survivors -- appearing at a summit held to call attention to the issue. The US military has announced new efforts to combat these crimes. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti brings us the issue through the eyes of two women, both survivors of alleged sexual attacks.
Military Sexual Assault Victims Heal, Discuss Policy
Women and men from all branches of the US military spoke out in Washington Tuesday about sexual assault in the ranks.  They were all military sexual assault survivors - appearing at a summit held to call attention to the issue.  The U.S. military has announced new efforts to combat these crimes.  

Jennifer Rivera can relax when she's with her parrot Janie.  The flashbacks lessen.  The panic attacks subside. She says her nightmare began when she was raped while on military duty in South Korea. She got an abortion - but was afraid to report the crime to her commanding officer.  

“This guy made me go to work after getting a process done where I’m bleeding through my clothes.  There’s no way he would have done anything about that rape,” Rivera said.

Elizabeth Lyman says she was 11 weeks pregnant when she was raped.

"There was blood on my bed.  I thought, ‘My God I’m having a miscarriage.  He killed my baby.’  So I froze,” Lyman said.

Her baby was fine. This week, Lyman joined Rivera and other rape survivors to discuss reforms to the military's sexual assault procedures.

The military says reports of sexual assault were up slightly last year with nearly 3,200 cases.  And, it estimates 86 per cent go unreported.  

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is beginning new policies to combat those numbers. “We will continue to devote our energy and our intention to enforcing our department’s zero tolerance policy on sexual assault,” he said.  Panetta says higher-ranked officers will now review allegations.  He also wants tougher penalties and specially-trained victim units.  The US military relies on a tight trust between members of individual units.  

Accusations against fellow service members sever that loyalty bond.  Now that women make up 14 per cent of the military, rape has become a larger issue. Lyman's alleged assailant was found not guilty at a military trial. Lyman calls it "a sham."  

"They don’t want to put servicemembers behind bars for alleged sexual assaults.  They don’t want that stain on their record," Lyman said.

The military told VOA it would be inappropriate to comment on either woman's case.  Rivera's charge is still pending.  By coming forward now, she hopes to inspire others.   

"I don’t want another person to go through what I went through and hold it in for years, because as years go by, you think it’s going to go away.  But, it’s not going to go away.  It gets worse,” Rivera said.

She rescued her parrot several years ago.  Her parrot, like Rivera, had been abused.  Rivera now hopes they can teach each other how to trust again.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid