*Warning – graphic post ahead. Rape trigger. I need to get this off my chest.

I’ve always hoped karma exists, especially since there are so many awful people that get away with awful things. With all this stuff going on in my country with the Supreme Court nomination, I’m watching how it is making so many bad feelings resurface for women everywhere. It is hard to watch. It is even more hard to hear the actual voices of the women when they are on the news. I just watched two women yell at Senator Flake for his confirmation vote. They shared their own experiences, and I heard it all in their voices. It is something I know all too well. I know the sound of fear. The sound of desperation for being treated unfairly and the injustice of the circumstances that they did not ask for. The sound of anxiety and misery. The sound of being broke. And while many women have been able to pull themselves together to keep on with life, this shit stirs up old feelings. It brings them to life. It revitalizes everything experienced in the past. And it is so fucking unfair. Me, too.

I was raped nearly two decades ago. I reported it the next day. I was also in the military serving in the Pacific region. That last sentence says it all. The Pentagon launched an investigation a few years later to review the sexual assault cases that were reported in the Pacific region, and the ridiculous amount that ended up getting dismissed.

I knew my attacker. He always gave me a creepy feeling. There was just something about him that was off. He was cold. And heartless. And he raped me at the end of the night after my own going away party. I had orders to return to the continental US, and would be leaving in just three weeks time. We lived in dorms, and I said I was done for the night. I drank way too much. I take ownership of that and acknowledge my outcome might have been different if I remained in control. But I won’t let that be the reason. He chose to rape me.

He offered to walk me to my room. He wanted to make sure I was safe. I told him I would be ok, but he followed me. Into my room. As I said, I was done. I told him he could leave. I fell on my bed in a state of extreme drunkenness. That was the last thing I remember. I woke up the next day with my pants around my ankles, and I was on my stomach. Something was not right. I was in a lot of pain. It was more than a hangover pain. I looked around the room and saw my roommates facial cleanser bottle next to my bed on the floor. I ran into the bathroom, and when I sat on the toilet, I saw blood. I wiped and there was more blood. It was coming from my anal area, and I was in pain.

I tried my hardest to see if I could remember anything, but saying I was going to sleep and falling on my bed was my last memory. I had a gut-wrenching feeling that I knew what happened. Did he use my roommate’s facial cleanser, thinking it was lotion, as lube? What the fuck happened?

I pulled myself together, drank some water, and went to my friend’s room a few doors down. When she opened the door, I broke down crying and told her I thought I had been raped. Trying to process it all, we talked through the night’s events. We talked through the person I thought it was. We decided that ultimately, I needed to get some medical attention. Another good friend joined us. I had such great friends.

After arriving at the base hospital, I checked in at the nurse’s station and told her I thought I had been raped and wanted to be checked out. She quietly told me to really think about calling it rape because the second it gets written down on the check-in report, the Office of Special Investigation will get called. I said I just want to get checked out, and make sure I’m ok! I don’t want to go through that. I was afraid for many reasons. Would my entire unit know? Would people say I was drunk and agreed to it? Would I be held up in the region and not be allowed to go home?

I reluctantly agreed to it. I felt like it was important that I get checked out. They asked if I wanted the plan B pill. I declined as I was on the pill. They noted it, and made me feel guilty for declining it.  There was a lot of whispering, and very little warmth. My friends stuck by my side the entire time.

Once the investigators had shown up, I realized my leadership team had also been notified. The public humiliation had started. I received word that there were cops with M-16 rifles posted outside of my dorm room. There you go. Everyone knows something is going on. Let the judging begin.

Once the rape kit was approved, it had been determined that sodomy occurred. Now to figure out if there was consent. The investigators treated me like shit. I felt worn and beat down. When I was finally able to return to my room, it had been sifted through by the investigators. I was told that my alleged attacker would be staying in the dorm, and to avoid the 2nd floor where he lived. I walked around with such fear and anxiety, and got to a point where I couldn’t go anywhere alone.

It all went downhill. Everyone knew. Everyone was interviewed. Everyone was asked about my character. I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter. I won’t lie, I felt like ending my life would be easier than getting through the next few weeks. Especially when they told me I might not be able to go home on schedule. The icing on the cake was probably the day I was waiting for my First Sergeant to get out of the Commander’s meeting so I could discuss the way ahead to go home. The Commander left the conference room door open, and I heard her discussion the sexual assault that occurred over the weekend. As clear as could be, I heard her announce to the entire leadership team what my name was. And then I heard her say to protect the privacy of the accused, she wasn’t going to mention his name. She was very disappointed as he was someone she had been mentoring to go to Officer Training School. Sure, that makes sense.

I nearly lost it. My best friend, who walked with me, was there and also heard it. She was irate, and ready to punch the lady. Our First Sergeant pulled us in his office to calm us down, and said he would speak to her about it, but agreed it was wrong.

I finally got clearance to leave. And I left without looking back. Luckily, my bestie was also leaving the same day, and we flew side by side, drinking beer, all the way home. It was a bittersweet ending.

After a rollercoaster of emotions that summer, I finally made it to my follow on base. I got myself in counseling, but quickly realized the military couldn’t help me and I made an appointment at a local Rape Crisis Center. The support there was overwhelmingly better. This is where I started my road to recovery.

After making many inquiries with the legal team, I was finally given a very short answer that the case had been closed due to insufficient evidence. I was devastated. To describe what I went through after everything that happened is difficult. But I heard the same pain today in the voices of the women addressing Senator Flake. I ended up leaving the military three years after it happened. I grew resentful of the system and it was hard for me to stay in.

To get to my point about karma. I followed my rapist online from time to time, so I knew his location. I wanted to make sure he was never near me. It had been a few years since I checked, but I knew his state, that he was married with kids, and still in the military. What I discovered recently has just made me ponder karma. I found out that his marriage fell apart in a major way. He had a public breakdown on Facebook. Life ensued. I believe he was discharged from the military. He was broke. He became homeless. He became bitter at the world via Facebook. He went missing for a bit. The police were looking for him. His own family publicly calling him out for being a piece of shit, and telling him to turn himself in to the police. After doing some research, I discovered he had a few misdemeanors – domestic assaults. The last one was a felony assault. And his estranged wife sought a restraining order against him. And I believe he is in jail now – hopefully in his own personal hell.

I finally came to a point in life where I was able to accept what happened to me. And move on. I had to move on. If I didn’t allow that to happen, I would be trapped in my own mind forever. Not in a good way. I’ve never been able to really share my entire story outside of the investigation done by the Pentagon. Being raped does a number on your emotional state. I finally found happiness. But I can’t lie – with everything going on as it is, well, my pot has been stirred.

This is the first time I’m getting this off my chest. I haven’t told my husband or my best friends. I feel as if I should just let karma do it’s magic. Part of me has wanted to scream it to the world. HE WAS HOMELESS AND IN JAIL! YASSSS! But then part of me knows that for that bad to happen, he has hurt some other people. And that makes me sad and angry for them. And angry at the way it was handled by the military at the time. Perhaps this could have been prevented. While I get some satisfaction knowing his current situation, it isn’t a happy satisfaction. So karma. I think it is out there. But it comes with strings attached.