There are three congresswomen that are now leaning on the Secretary of Defense to demand more transparency in releasing information about these court-martials. This is where I really have a problem and what upset me the most about the article.
The military is a small place. It may seem big, but it isn’t. Add that to the fact that my family lives in a small town and this is where things really get sticky.
One of the things that I was most thankful for during this whole process was my daughter’s anonymity. While she has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, what happened to her is very personal and she doesn’t want people looking at her as the girl that was molested. She doesn’t want her friends to know, unless she chooses to share that with them and she most certainly doesn’t want the “mean girls” to find out.
Being a teenager is hard enough without that set of problems. My counselor and I spoke of this very thing during one of my sessions and she told me that there have been victims that were further victimized by the “mean girl” group and some boys in their school. I do not want my daughter to be further traumatized by a group of kids that like to bully others.
By allowing anyone who wants a transcript of these court-martials to have them, you are handing the victims over to the world at large.
To go even further and to demand that they are not as redacted as they are now is exposing the victims.
The victims of these crimes deserve the right to control who they tell about what happened to them and who they choose not to tell.
They deserve anonymity.
When my daughter read the multiple articles on this subject today, she experienced the same visceral reaction that I did; her face lost all color and her breath was also taken away. To her, the article was saying the world had a right to know her story and that is not what she wants.
While you will never hear me say that I love the way my husband’s command treated this case (or me), I will tell you that they did their jobs. They did what they needed to do to protect my husband from getting into further trouble if he did do what he was accused of doing, but they also did not persecute him or treat him as a criminal or assume that he was guilty.
There was no sweeping anything under the rug by anyone at all in his branch of service.
Everyone did their jobs. I will be the first to say that I was not thrilled by the Victim Advocate that was assigned to me. I felt that she was very dismissive and did not at all empathize with me. She even called a few times and didn’t know who I was or what my case was. However, there were people on base who offered me strong, good counsel. The Chaplain called and checked on me regularly, the investigators did a thorough investigation, and I was given the resources I need and pointed in the right direction.
One resource that I was most thankful for and that I think the military should be applauded for was the Victim Legal Counsel.
The case was also dealt with in a timely manner, unlike in the civilian sector where many cases take years to even make it to the prosecutors desk and into a court room. Everything was done very efficiently with minimal lag time. I testified for the prosecution and the defense in the sentencing phase of the court martial and I was present for the two days that it took for all the evidence to be presented to the judge and for him to make his ruling.
All i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed. If I had to use one word to describe the process, it would be smooth. It all went amazingly smooth and I felt that everyone did their job well and took it seriously.
It seemed to me that the articles I read were trying to be a sort of expose on the military mishandling child sexual abuse cases in the military. Yet, the article stated that the military has a lower percentage of cases than the civilian sector. The articles, in my opinion, tried to attribute this to a lack of transparency and to a reluctance in prosecuting these cases. In my opinion and experiences that is not the truth. The Department of Defense has bent over backward for my family. They prosecuted a case that most likely would not have been prosecuted in the civilian courts, they provided my daughter and I with legal counsel separate from the prosecution and the defense (Victim Legal Counsel), they paid for our household goods to be moved to my home state, and they paid me 6 months pay and benefits post conviction. They are continuing to help me through the Victim Transition Fund which provides a monthly stipend for each of my children and myself, as well as insurance, for the next three years.
The simple fact is without the help of the military and the way they chose to move froward after being presented with what my husband did, my children and I would not have been able to thrive in this new life that we have.
And that is what we are doing.
We are not just surviving, we are thriving.