I was raped twice in Iraq – US veteran speaks out
According to a new study by the US Department of Defense, one in three women in the military is raped. Veterans for Peace add to those statistics, claiming 75% of raped women in the military fail to report it.
Sandra Lee has decided to break the silence five years after she was assaulted by a fellow soldier. She had been rebuilding schools in the middle of a war zone in Iraq when the incident occurred.
“It was towards the end of my deployment. Just a couple of months before we were ready to go home,” Sandra Lee remembers, “It happened in the evening. Somebody I knew. It was not big deal to let that person in to where I was living, because he’d come over before. We built a friendly relationship over the past year that I’d been there. It started out normal, just basic conversation, how my days were going. But then he started talking about what I deem is inappropriate.”
Because of the shock, Sandra Lee doesn’t remember exactly what happened. She does remember, though, how she said “No”, and the way she tried to fight back. Unfortunately, no one came to her rescue. And the incident recurred two weeks later. However Sandra failed to report the rapes.
“I had a job to do”, she says, “I didn’t have the time or mental capability to deal with something like that. When you are in the position that I was in, and the job that I was doing, you are on alert 24/7. I wasn’t one of the soldiers who stayed behind – I was out every single day. All day long. Sometimes at night. If I had allowed myself to think about it, deal with it, I don’t think I would have been able to make it."
Sandra says the military sweeps these problems underneath the carpet, even though at times it costs them, “They don’t like to address the problems, because it’s too much work. When I redeployed back to the US, we had post-health assessment screening. Everyone did. And they asked me questions about my mental health. ‘Do you have nightmares? Do you startle easily?’ I marked ‘yes’ to everything. But did anyone contact me, did anyone ask my why I was feeling those things? No.”