We celebrate woman of business accomplishments, their wealth, wise words of wisdom, and celebrity status. Let’s celebrate and lift up women of valor that comprise our military forces. These women leave their families and give their lives to serve and protect our country. We have no idea what they experience in the military, on the battlefield, or as prisoners of war; but they endure and stand their ground with courage.
I am honored to work with veterans weekly through one of our programs at Fortitude Health & Wellness, Inc. I listen to their stories and find myself entrenched in descriptive recall of their experiences of battle and personal triumphs while serving.
There are two stories in particular that broke my heart but also lifted me up; two women’s triumph to survive and overcome. These are atrocities they endured while serving their country. Both women were brutally raped by male soldiers, men they trusted and served with in the military. They blamed themselves for the assault and thought it was their fault and that they should have been able to stop them.
Cheryl recalled taking a walk with a trusted soldier, not knowing he was luring her out to rape her. Once he took her far enough from the barracks where no one could hear, he assaulted her. He assured her the military would blame her for walking with him alone. She believed him and did not report the rape and did not tell anyone what happened for several years. She looked at this man every day for months until her new assignment arrived. Cheryl was in her early twenties when this happened. She just began to deal with the assault this year. She is now in her mid-forties.
This incident yielded unhealthy choices of men she allowed in her life over the years, her relationships with other people, and her self-esteem was shattered. She became a “woman interrupted.” Life as she knew it changed in those moments of betrayal by a man she trusted. She sucked it in and filed what happened deep in her subconscious, but God does not allow us to file away emotional pain forever. It must surface one day, and Cheryl finally realized her life was a sum of all her bad choices. She finally went into therapy and committed herself to complete the hard work to become whole and healthy again.
Jenny’s story is similar, but the violence against her was greater. She was left with a broken jaw, lost several teeth, and had a broken collar bone. Her assailant beat her so badly, she was unconscious when the military police found her. She lives with the assault every day because from it, she bore a child. When confronted with her pregnancy as a result of the rape, she chose to remain pregnant, give birth, keep the baby, and love it with all her heart.
These women are of strong courage, untethered strength, and an example that we can overcome and move forward no matter what happens in life. I salute you!
Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The most startling aspect of sex crimes, many go unreported. The FBI estimates only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police.
If you are a victim of rape or sexual abuse, do not remain a victim. Report the violence against you, get the help you need to become whole and free. Listed below are organizations that can help you:
- The National Center for Victims of Crime – www.victimsofcrime.org
- Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – www.womenshealth.gov
- Rape & Incest National Network – www.rainn.org
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSURC) – www.nsurc.org