April 18th, 2012

Employers Gone Wild: U.S. military banishes rape victims with damning psychiatric diagnoses

Women in the American military are raped by fellow sailors and soldiers (still want to call them all “heroes”?). Despite the Defense Department’s “zero tolerance” policy, 3,191 sexual assaults were reported in 2011, the estimated actual number is 19,000. The crime of rape is bad enough, but the employer of these women, the U.S. Army, compounded problems for the brave women who reported it by ending their careers.

It seems the military psychologists and psychiatrists blame the women for their plight (as the Medical Corps has done to troops suffering from PTSD). They use the technique of deliberately mis-applying the psychiatric diagnosis of personality disorder to rape victims. This labels the women with a “pre-existing condition” because the diagnosis requires onset of conditions during adolescence. Being branded with a PD renders the women ineligible for post-discharge medical, military and education benefits.

It’s double jeopardy for the women — employer puts you in harm’s way, gets you raped, then the employer ends your employment while promoting rapists. Sound familiar? It’s the same paradigm experienced by bullied targets who lose their jobs.

Unforgivable Employer Responses

Marine Stephanie Schroeder reported her rape and was told, “Don’t come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind.”

Army soldier Anna Moore completed a written report of an attempted rape to her sergeant only to be told, “Forget about it. It never happened,” and then the tore up the paperwork.

Then the diagnosis is affixed, often without a reasonable examination. Women are considered trouble and separated from the service. Careers are ruined by involuntary discharge.

The Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic discovered a disturbing pattern. The abuse of the PD diagnosis by military “mental health professionals” was disproportionately used against women in the services.

The audacious military has also billed rape victims for their enlistment bonuses. Moore was given a $2,800 bonus when she enlisted patriotically after 9/11, planning a lifetime career. When she was discharged for daring to resist rape, she owed the military $6,000!

When Panayiota Bertzikis of the Coast Guard reported her attack, the station chief ordered her and her attacker to clean out an attic on base together and told to “work out” their differences.

Celeste Santana, a former Navy lieutenant commander, lost her pension when she was involuntarily separated from the military in 2011 after 17 years of active duty — three years short of being eligible to retire. Santana says the Navy gave her an adjustment disorder after she reported being sexual assaulted in the middle of the night at a forward operating base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. She says no medical evaluation ever took place.

Read the full story at CNN. Below are audio clips from four women telling their stories.

L to R: Stephanie Schroeder, Anna Moore, Jenny McClendon, Panayiota Bertzikis

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Our society’s widespread adoption of the rape myth is sickening. When coupled with abuses of the system by military hacks pretending to be mental health practitioners, it is doubly atrocious. Have they no shame?


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 3:09 pm and is filed under Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Tutorials About Bullying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. kachina says:

    The whole process of reporting, being discounted, disbelieved, disillusioned…so familiar. So wrong. So despicable and vile.

    All targets of violence of any description will recognize and empathize. This is SO not OK.

    There is hope in that these courageous individuals have not stopped talking about it, have not been silenced…despite the failure of any avenue of hope they pursued without success. If they can still believe in themselves enough to keep talking then there IS hope for us all.

  2. kay says:

    This is also where I am. After having severe nightmares near nightly, I understand what they are living. I could imagine being physically raped as I dream it near nightly. The distortion seems to stem from the fact that I was videotaped using the restroom an unknown number of times at work by my male supervisor.

    I am in my home and feeling like it is groundhog day daily. I was diagnosed with PTSD by therapists after showing up at the ER and nearly whispering what the sick supervisor had told me. It is so crazy because I have always since a kid been so conservative. I am lighthearted so not stiff, but very modest. I could never have imagined anything like this. Anyone who has known or met me over the span of my life, teachers, professors, friends and family would say that this would probably kill me inside if video voyeurism would happen to me at work. I feel sick because during the first year when this sick man called my co-worker Olive Oil and said not to wear her hair like that again because she looked like Olive Oil and I saw her face while she struck up conversation with me to drown him out, I was a bit afraid. I stayed away from him as best I could daily as I listened to him joke if that was all -it- cost when asked for his lottery pool $1 by female or a myriad of other incidents before it turned on me.

    He’d praise me for my competence and productivity scores and character. I’d say thank you but stay politely away. but then listen as he’d be very inappropriate. I sit here and I can’t believe he has tapes of me. I could vomit each time I think of it, and that’s every day or most of the day. I saw a variety of therapists even before I told the company. I was just trying to keep myself together in a hugely hostile environment and unethical corporation. Even my female sup would be candid with me in private about the climate and incidents that she’d even experienced.

    The thing that everyone will say is “She kept quiet”. I did not share it around or speak up loudly and mostly kept any and everything quiet.

    When I began to speak and told too much and complained of nearly all of the toxicity going on that everyone knew already and spoke of daily. I told how it had harmed me. The co. sent me to a paid Psych and he disregarded my statements and even ignored me when I mentioned the indecent video voyeurism. He asked no questions about it. I told him that to me it felt like rape. He said to me “that is your opinion” then at one point told me “that is why I’m a Dr” nearly saying to me -and you’re not. Then said you’re not, It was atrocious. He tried to coerce me to say nothing happened. After the first bad appt with him. The second one I audio taped privately and have. It was even more revealing. He said that he did not want to discuss that and he’d “ask the company”. He asked if anyone else had incidents, insinuating that I was the problem, and I told him of many, on record. He would interrupt me and then finally said that I had “paranoid personality disorder” and “hold grudges”. I could not believe it. I’d kept everything secret and was nearly having a heart attack and was told to wear a heart monitor after bad calcs by dr. several. I vomited in my trash quietly at work and the can can be found up on another floor in a restroom probably still today.

    I Kept quiet. Until they did nothing when I quietly spoke about severe intrusions, invasions. harassment and conduct. Then I sought outside help. Now I’m terminated for “having a disability and not recovering in the strict time allotted by the company policy”. This is what they sent me as I sought to be returned before twelve mths and provided a safe area to work in away from visit from that sup or hostile others.

    Thing is. They never denied really anything that has occurred. And much was witnessed by sup and reported by sup to HR. They really ignored me and when told of the hostile environment HR said “it’s just some co workers being mean”. To my face.

    My mouth hung open.

    • Good people like you never believed such shameless acts were possible. Under the guise of “work,” it’s turning into a jungle, anything-goes, no-rules-apply, cutthroat world — an alternative reality. Everyone is walking on eggshells. That’s no way to live.

      • kachina says:

        I think that’s partly why it is so rampant. Some of the behaviours targets are subjected to are so blatant and despicable that people don’t believe their eyes and ears when it is assulting their senses and sensibilities directly. To hear a report of it, with no other input, must trigger an immediate and intense revulsion that causes the listener to question the sanity and perceptions of the truth-teller.

        It is hard to believe. That’s why targets get the deer-in-the-headlights paralysis. Your brain starts to quiver and contort…because this CANNOT be happening. Not in the world you know. There is no frame of reference or context in which it makes sense…so the mind wonders if it happened at all. How could it. Believing makes the world and the people in it very dangerous and frightening! Like you have been briefly to an alternate universe…but things otherwise appear “normal”. Logic tells us that it could not have happened.

        But the reality is that these things actually do go on. Some people do behave in ways we find difficult to imagine and process. Our bodies react to the revulsion we cannot help but feel. Some people respond by repressing and denying their own experience. Others vomit…sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively in some way. There is no tidy and effective way to just incorporate the experience.

        Anyone who has been entrusted with the telling of such a story …please try very hard to accept the possibility (however remote you believe it to be) that you may be hearing the unvarnished, raw truth.

  3. kachina2 says:

    Evidently speaking out about the level of appropriate support for military personnel carries significant repercussions in Canada as well. 


  4. Cilla McCain says:

    Can you please sign and share the following petitions demanding justice for military rape victims?

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