There’s a very long cover story in the NY Times Magazine this week about women vets and the additional stress they experience from being raped or harassed by their brothers in arms:
Swift’s stress came not just from the war and not just from the supposed harassment, she told the investigators, but from some combination of the two. In a written statement to investigators, Swift asserted that her station, Camp Lima, outside Karbala, was hit by mortar attacks almost nightly for the first two months of her deployment. She reported working 16-hour shifts, experiencing the death of a fellow company member in an incident of friendly fire and having a close friend injured in a car bombing. What Swift said distressed her most, however, was a situation that involved her squad leader, the sergeant to whom she directly reported in Iraq. She claimed that he propositioned her for sex the first day the two of them arrived in Iraq and that she felt coerced into having a sexual relationship with him that lasted four months – the relationship consisting, she said, of his knocking on her door late at night and demanding intercourse. When she finally ended this arrangement, Swift told me, the sergeant retaliated by ordering her to do solitary forced marches from one side of the camp to another at night in full battle gear and by humiliating her in front of her fellow soldiers. (The sergeant could not be reached, but according to an internal Army report, he denied any sexual contact with Swift.)
As it often is with matters involving sex and power, the lines are a little blurry. Swift does not say she was raped, exactly, but rather manipulated into having sex – repeatedly – with a man who was above her in rank and therefore responsible for her health and safety. (Some victims’ advocates use the term ”command rape” to describe such situations.) Swift says that the other two sergeants – one in Kuwait and one back home in Fort Lewis, both a couple of ranks above her – made comments like ”You want to [expletive] me, don’t you?” or when Swift asked where she was to report for duty, responded, ”On my bed, naked.”
Check out the whole thing.