It took a long, long time for me to be able to say the word “rape”. Like if I didn’t say it, then that is not what it was. I would say “I was attacked”. I would say I was touched. I would say “he grabbed my neck”. I would say “he touched my breasts”. I would skirt around it because I didn’t want people to know. But it is what it is. Years and years later I am still struggling with emotional and physical problems, and I hope, somehow, to sort things out here.
In early summer of 1998, I was a young PFC in the Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. I had been in the Army for less than a year. I had wanted so badly to have a career. I already had everything else a young woman could want… a beautiful husband, two baby boys, a cozy little house off base. I had joined the military in 1997, shocking my family. Shipped off to boot camp, then AIT. I was away from my toddler boys for 6 months, before I came back home, to guaranteed stationing near my home. It had been so difficult to train to become a soldier, but I had passed, I was even “honor graduate” of my class. I was placed in a unit and enjoyed the physical training, and didn’t mind all the hard work. I was on friendly terms with some of the other young soldiers, and the Sgt who was in charge of us was a good, hard-working Filipino who I will call SFC C.
It was a usual workday, consisting of getting up at 0500 hrs, being on base and in formation for PT at 0600, brisk exercise, then off to the gym to shower and change, duty at 0900 hrs. Our unit was prepping to go to the field that day. SFC C had me and another private, who I will call PFC H, hard at work. There was a line of abandoned old barracks near our unit building, we used one for storage. SFC C, PFC H, and I were in the storage barracks, and SFC C gave me a list of chores that needed to be done, mostly washing out water pots. SFC C was taking PFC H to get rations, and I was left alone in an old kitchen area, where a big industrial sink made it easy to do cleanup. It was a very hot day, probably 95 degrees, and muggy in the old barracks. It was quiet in there, except when I had the sprayer at the sink on.
I heard the large double doors, that lead to a small patio, stairs, and parking lot, open up. I was not concerned, because any of our unit might go into the barracks for supplies. A moment later I saw an E-7 I knew, enter the building. He strode in purposefully, in uniform, woodland camo BDUs. He looked over, saw me, our eyes locked for a brief second. I wondered what he was doing there. He walked into the kitchen, looked down the hall, then into the offices, and finally came back to where I was. He stood way too close, on my right side, and I stepped away a bit. He asked me what I was doing, and I showed him, and told him that SFC C had me doing such and such, and was out with PFC H. He asked a question or two about the field exercise. Then he asked something like “are you all alone”? And I told him yes. The E-7 began to make innuendo, such as, that I was not alone any longer, and, “imagine what we could do since we are all alone”. In retrospect, and as a grown woman now, I know that if I was alone and hearing innuendo like this, I would likely have bolted and got out of there. As a young and trusting woman who was still quite inexperienced with the ways of the world, I didn’t have much of a clue.
The situation quickly got out of hand. It began with the E-7 pushing up against me again. Then he grabbed me. I got away from him once, but he grabbed me again, this time pinning my arms, and trying to kiss me. What I remember most of the way he looked at that time, was the strangely large size of his pupils, and the way he was breathing hard and sweating, even before the violence really kicked in. It is the details that cause me the most pain… remembering the way he smelled, or the feel of his hands hurting me as I was helpless. I was squirming and trying to fight him off. Strange how very helpless I was… I had thought prior to that day, that I was a strong and capable young woman. After the kiss, he let my arms go, briefly, and I thought it was going to be over with. Unfortunately, he only let me arms go to unbutton and remove his BDU jacket. That sinking, dreaded feeling as he did that. Fear inside, dread. So awful to feel that I could not get away. I had both my hands on his chest and trying to push my way past him, when he hit me, right between the eyes and the bridge of my nose. *Pow*, a Mike Tyson punch. A sudden rush of pain and everything turned white, I was stunned, doubled over. He took advantage of me being debilitated, and ripped my jacket, shirt, and bra up, fingers violating my breasts. Oh the misery of it… my vision was inching back, I still had strange whiteness/fuzziness, and I was telling him stop it, stop now, and squirming.
Nothing I could say affected the E-7. He was trying to unbutton my pants. My head was throbbing. The E-7 was so rough that he jerked me off the ground, trying to get my pants off. I was forced up to the metal counter, and he was trying to kiss my neck. When I jerked away from his unwelcome mouth, he bit down on me so hard that tears rolled down my face. He had my pants down and I was basically exposed from armpit to knee. I was begging him by now to stop. I was clawing at his hands and arms. He pinned my wrists and hands down on the counter with one of his hands and he got his own pants down and then terrible, rough, painful penetration. I detached somehow just a bit then… I heard my own strange sounds of pain and anguish and thought, this is like someone else… this is not noises that I should make. He let go of my wrists and there was nowhere I could go, being crushed up against the counter with him behind me. He hands were brutal on my breasts, nipples, labia.
How is this sex, when the only sex I had really known, was a playful, fun, pleasurable and arousing sex that I had with my husband? It is like two opposites. This rape, was incredibly foul, painful, and unwanted. How could I know it would get even worse? I stood there, forced to withstand his assault, aching in my head, neck, breasts, vagina. And then he slid his right arm up and put me in what the military calls a “submission hold.”
The E-7s forearm squeezed against my throat. I stopped my crying out, and stopped fighting him, because now I was using both my hands to try to pull his arm away from my throat. I was gasping for air, I could not breathe. I felt he might kill me now, so that I would not be able to tell anyone what he had done to me. My body was limp. I turned my head to the side and tried, oh I tried just to get a sip of air. How is it possible, the horror of the actual rape is lessened by the need to breathe. How long did it last? It felt impossibly long, this torture, the E-7s arm is contracting, cutting off my air completely, I get a hot, pinching feeling in my face and head, then his arm loosens just a little bit and I am gasping. I am dizzy, burning hot, gripping his forearm as he does that squeeze and relax. Is he seeing how much I can take before I am completely unconscious? Am I still alive? Does he want me to die?
I can’t stop what is happening. I know what will happen, as I hear his grunting and for those minutes I was being strangled, all I wanted was to breathe. He ejaculates, his arm tight against my throat, but after he climaxes, his arm loosens off my neck, and all I do is gulp in air and lean weakly over the counter. I submit. My hands and arms are weak, my legs shaking. Again I am detached, like I am watching a movie about someone else. My eyes are closed, I say nothing and dont fight him anymore, as he grinds against me, fondles, pinches. A miserable sobbing in my chest.
There is a sound, a rumbling, like a truck passing on the street outside. I say something like “PFC H is back”. The E-7 quickly gets dressed. He says something to me, but I dont hear it. And then he leaves. And leaves my life in tatters…