Sexual Assault & Murder Committed Against Women in the Military...when will we belong?
Posted November 22, 2020 from United States
Assault and Sexual Assault Against Women in the Military...when will be belong?
Photo by Stars and Stripes of Spc Vanessa Guillen

Sexual Assault has been the scourge of the military, today and for some time. I am writing about assaults against women in the military because it is alive and well, and has very recently led to murder.  This subject is far from brief. I am only shining a beacon of light on the tip of this iceberg. Like an iceberg, only a bit of the surface is revealed. But there is a mountain below the surface.

I remember talking to my cousin as far back as the 1990s about her life in the Navy. I was so proud watching her put on her Navy uniform. She told me that she was scheduled to go on sea duty soon. And was dreading the thought. Naively I expressed how wonderful it must be. She said all the female sailors on sea duty were expected to go on birth control pills. Because the first women that went out, just prior to her, on the ships came back raped and pregnant. This was her reality facing her back in the 90s. Not much has changed in the US military system for women. Below I provided excerpts from articles and links of where the military stands today. Women in the military are still in danger of sexual assault. And it is getting worse, not better.

Spc. Vanessa Guillen was bludgeoned to death on the Fort Hood Army Base, Texas...

Spc Vanessa Guillen had gone to work on the Fort Hood base as usual. She was being harassed by a co-worker/soldier and was battling extreme depression because of it. Vanessa's family says she did not file a sexual harassment complaint because she did not believe such a complaint would be taken seriously.  So her family keep close contact with her daily. But Vanessa disappeared. Her family searched the base and created a movement to find her. It is a huge Army base. And Vanessa was a small, very young soldier. The army had no accountability as to her whereabouts. Due to the persistence of her family, the military finally opened an investigation. Going thru channels, time, family pressure and news coverage, Vanessa's body was found.  Vanessa Guillén was a 20 year old U.S. Army soldier who was murdered on April 22, 2020, inside a Fort Hood, Texas, armory by another enlisted soldier, Spc Aaron David Robinson, age 20. Guillén had been missing since April 22 when some of her dismembered remains were found buried along the Leon River on June 30.  Vanessa Guillen's head was bludgeoned with a hammer. Her body was stuffed into a locker and burned.  The remaining pieces of her body were buried in several places, by Spc Aaron Robinson and his girlfriend Cecilia Aguilar.  Spc Aaron Robinson later committed suicide.

This soldier was not killed fighting for her country. She was killed fighting off her assailant while at work on the Army base in Texas. The irony is Vanessa Guillen only ever wanted to be a soldier. 

Documentary ... I Am Vanessa l 20/20 l PART 1-PART 5 | ABC News

Soldiers Carry Casket Of Slain Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen | NBC News NOW


Stars and Stripes...excerpt from a public military website. 

The Pentagon in Washington DC reports that rates of sexual assault and harassment reports in the military have increased since last year.  The Defense Department’s fiscal year 2019 report on sexual assault in the military said there were 7,825 sexual assault reports involving service members as victims or subjects, a 3% increase compared to 2018.  The reports that are restricted, where survivors confidentially disclose an assault without starting an official investigation, saw a 17% increase from last year, with 2,126 reports. The increase shows “a clear lack of faith in the chain of command,” Protect Our Defenders (an advocate organization) said in a statement about the report.  The military received 1,021 formal sexual harassment complaints, a 10% increase from 2018.

Statistical Data on Sexual Assault compiled by the United States Department of Defense

Military Times... excerpt from a public military website.

One junior enlisted female Marine told a focus group: “When I first got here, all the people in my shop specifically, they live on third deck and I got put on first deck. And when I asked why, they said it’s because I was going to get raped if I lived on third deck.”  The Pentagon’s Office of People Analytics conducted 61 focus groups last fall, speaking to 493 service members, including some local sexual assault and harassment prevention advocates, at eight installations.  Dozens of anecdotes included in the report show that for many troops, a culture of weekend binge drinking coupled with apathetic and even predatory supervisors continues to plague the services. 

Military sexual assault victims say the system is broken...

Sexual harassment and assault in the military has been at the forefront of discussions for years as the military tries to address the problem and make it easier and safer for victims to report cases.  Out of the four branches, the Army and Navy had the highest reports of sexual assault, according to the most recent data from the Department of Defense.  Earlier this year, ABC News profiled a former Army officer who said she was raped. An event that she said was a long nightmare for the pursuit of justice. Including having her trial moved at the last minute from civilian to military court. The suspect in her case was ultimately acquitted in a court martial.

Senator Martha McSally - Retired US Airforce Colonel-first female fighter pilot and now senator ...

On March 6, Senator McSally disclosed that she was a survivor of military sexual assault and sought to combat sexual assault in the military.  While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Martha McSally experienced multiple incidents of sexual abuse and assault. But when she sought advice about how to talk publicly about experiences she'd had with the abusive culture of the Air Force, the service decided to look into her behavior instead of that of the alleged offenders. Later, in the Air Force, when she decided to confront the senior officer who had been pressuring and harassing her, "His response was to hold me down and rape me," she revealed. "I told one friend, but never considered reporting the crime. 

Watch and listen...very powerful testimony by Senator McSally..."

It was my dream as a little girl to be a fighter pilot. My father, a WW2 veteran told me that I was girl so it wasn't possible. He bought me a Cape Canaveral toy set, complete with fighter jets. And he took me to visit an aircraft carrier to humor that little girl.  I didn't stop dreaming about flying high and fast. But I let others do it. I salute the women who dared to defy their Dads, and dare to claim their place amongst all the men who don't believe women have a place in the military. There are men that make the military a dangerous place and try to keep women away.  I pray for female soldiers and their safety in every way. And someday they will be safe with their comrades, at home and abroad.


This story was submitted in response to Sharing Solutions: Ending GBV.

Comments 6

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Nini Mappo
Nov 23, 2020
Nov 23, 2020

Dear JoMarie,
This is such a distressing, sickening report:/ And adds to my grief for America my beloved. I join
you in the hope and prayers for safety for these courageous sisters. This year it just keeps pouring!
Nov 23, 2020
Nov 23, 2020

Hi Nini,
I originally posted the links for the public military website sources. But only a few hours later, the links were shut down. Hmmm...
Often Nini, when we grieve for our beloveds, we go thru their belongings and discover hidden treasures as well as the skeletons in their closets. I love my country dearly. It's like loving a parent with issues. I also know that the creation of the pedestal in the minds of many was well planned thru centuries of previously more successful pedestals. My country is young and human. Humanity has always been flawed everywhere. We are not different from before. What has changed is that we are exposed and in the spotlight. No more rose colored glass lenses for the world to look thru. Cherish being woke!

Nini Mappo
Nov 24, 2020
Nov 24, 2020

Thank you for that reminder dear JoMarie. I often forget that I am woke, and go back to America my golden calf. Well being woke is uncomfortable, the rose colored glass lenses are bliss!!
I appreciate you, your stories and perspective, the creative vibes and the kindred spirit that sparks outta you!
All the best in this relationship (loving a parent with issues...I love that metaphor)
Nov 24, 2020
Nov 24, 2020

Being woke makes you the spark for awareness, correction and change. Thank you my sister, for being you!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Hello, JoMarie,

How tragic when the women who vowed to protect their country is not protected in her own circle. This speaks volumes, "This soldier was not killed fighting for her country. She was killed fighting off her assailant while at work on the Army base in Texas. The irony is Vanessa Guillen only ever wanted to be a soldier."

Thank you for raising your voice on gender violence in the military. I have a female friend who is now a Major in the Marine Corps. I asked her if there was any incidence of sexual harassment in their company, she replied, "Takot lang nila" ( They should be afraid of me). I hope there is no incidence as such in the Philippine Military. This is her, by the way,
Nov 26, 2020
Nov 26, 2020

Dear Karen,
This is the WorldPulse movement at its best. I wrote, you read, you spoke to your friend, a female in the military. Now she, along with other women have the position of advantage. It has become a thought process of a possibility that may need to be addressed one day, someday. Knowledge is power. None of the women above enlisted for the possibility of what they experienced. And no one knew or would believe it. That's why it grew into a culture and a multifaceted problem. No one thought this existed. Awareness and correction always have consequences and sacrifices. Trust and believe that a world power military system has no fear of anyone. Our sisters have to begin with awareness and knowledge as their weapons. And really ask themselves and each other... what if?