After reading this FOX article about the military’s push to bring rape numbers down, I felt the need to tell the story about a rape of a soldier I personally know: that soldier is me.
The stats on rape in the military are MUCH worse than reported. How do I know? Because both I and my roommate were raped at West Point- and we never reported it. The man who raped me, Wil Riggins, is now a Colonel in the Army. The rape is the reason I left West Point. So, while his military career is soaring, I left mine far behind. I never told a soul there- not even the psychologists I was forced to see before I left. All I wanted to do was get as far away from that place as I could. I would move hell and high water to do it. I just wanted to breeze through those interviews and be done with it all. Even though it was possible for me to be forced into 5 years of military service as a private, I didn’t care. I just needed to go. So, I lied. I must have broken some kind of speed record for out-processing from West Point- it took a mere 3 days. I didn’t save a single memento- not my uniforms, not my insignia, not my hat, not anything. I literally packed my few clothes and bolted. (I regret this now.) I was at the end of my third year- had my ring and my car. West Point also required me to give back my class ring as I was no longer worthy of it. I had nowhere to go (my disappointed mother told me not to come home if I quit) and I didn’t care. There were so many incidents there that were unbearable (example: I belonged to a company called B-1, “Boys One”, that took pride in running out all its women. We women were forced to scream, “Go Boys One!” Boys One still exists there) – but that rape was the last straw for me. West Point was hell for women.
I thank God that for some reason, the Army didn’t need or want me to fulfill those 5 years. Perhaps they sensed that there was more to the story than I told. No one leaves after three years. It doesn’t make sense. The hard part is over by then- only senior year, with full privileges, remained. In addition, after two years of a free education, all cadets sign a contract that says they will serve in the military for 5 years- as a private or as an officer. So, if you quit, you end up serving as a private instead of a lieutenant- without a college degree. Not really a logical choice, right? That’s why my instantaneous decision to leave triggered the whole interview process with those psychologists. They were kind and asked me if I had been raped. But to go through some lengthy investigation (that would attract the scorn of the entire corps) when I was absolutely at the most fragile emotional state of my life wasn’t an option to me. I needed to be gone.
I have thought about officially reporting this colonel- but I haven’t yet done so. I called West Point (several years ago) and found out that hundreds of women cadets are now reporting rapes that happened while I was there- almost 25 years later. I spoke to the female colonel there who encouraged me to officially file. I’m not sure why I didn’t and why I don’t. It just feels like old news- left far behind.
But I DID find him on social media. In fact, I had forgotten him until I saw his smug face on Twitter and Facebook! Now that made me mad. That’s how I found out that he was now a colonel- ahhh… do you all remember the first rush we had when FB came online and allowed us to instantly connect with our old high school & college buddies? Well, it also opened a few Pandora’s boxes, didn’t it? Well, his wife shared that account. After I confronted him publicly about the rape on both sites, all social media sites with that jerk quickly disappeared. Which I found very satisfying. I have no doubt he had some explaining to do with his wife, whom he was dating at the time of the rape. I wonder if they are still married? I feel sorry for her.
As indicated in the article, alcohol does play a major role in these rapes- I was out cold from stupidly drinking myself unconscious at Eisenhower Hall (the one place they let cadets let off steam with dancing and free beer- yes, FREE beer). Women- ESPECIALLY military women- do NOT over-drink with your buddies. I promise you, in the stunted sexual environment of the military, one of your so-called friends will take advantage. And you will be left shocked. Especially because you only find out that you had been raped by certain ‘evidence’ that remains when you wake up. Which means that the rapist also failed to use a condom.
My roommate was violently raped in her bed- and she did not report it. When I was at West Point, if you got raped, it actually was your fault. There was NO way to report it except to your direct company commander- of whom you were completely terrified. The culture at West Point, and I’m sure the entire military, is that you do not rat on other soldiers. If it is not a matter of ‘honor’ (ie, lying, cheating, stealing) then you keep your mouth shut. I didn’t even know that this type of rape was illegal- a crime. Why? Because no one told me! Also, the male soldiers called all us women bitches & sluts anyway. To report that you were that drunk and that you were raped while unconscious is to tell the world that you are a drunkard and a slut. Male cruelty at that point can drive many a woman to suicide. My roommate understood this pressure as well. Her attacker also went scott free.
Sometimes I wonder about women in the military. Gays too. Now, ladies, don’t get me the wrong way. I was an awesome soldier. I was the best shot with the M-16 in my entire company (about 100 guys) and was one of the last to be killed in our simulated war training. Women have the skills, alright. My question is about mixing the sexes in that type of environment.
It is hard enough for our soldiers to fight a war and maintain discipline under duress. Special, over the top training is absolutely necessary when ordering men into live battle. Questioning orders or cowardliness won’t do at all. Adding sexuality at the workplace just doesn’t seem like a good idea for hundreds of young, testosterone-pumped men who are trained to exert force day in and day out. “Sensitivity training” and “Go Rip Your Enemy A New A-hole Training” don’t really go hand in hand, do they? There is a MACHO in the military that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else- and it is necessary. But is also a completely stunted environment for sexual maturity- both for men and women. Women are surrounded by a hundred lustful men who will do anything to get their attention- it can quite go to your head! And it can lead to a severe lack of wisdom and caution. It can even lead to what we used to call, “The Queen Bee Syndrome” where the few women who are there actually learn to compete with one another for all this male attention. As I said, it is a completely unique environment.
Women can’t really be getting a great experience out of the whole thing either. While I still retain a couple of friendships from West Point, I have seen that most women leave the academies and service rather alone while the men make lifetime buddies. The military just seems geared to men. They like it. They make friends & lifelong loyalties there. It seems to be the epitome of male accomplishment. But West Point was a lonely place for me. I truly wonder what most women, if they were being completely honest, would say on the matter now. Personally, I can tell you with 100% confidence that I would never recommend the military as a career choice for a woman. I have discouraged several young, bright-eyed women throughout the years from making that choice. So, maybe there is some redemption in that.