Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), America’s first female fighter pilot to serve in combat, says she can no longer be silent about a rape she suffered at the hands of a superior officer while serving in the Air Force. McSally publicly spoke about the incident for the first time on Wednesday as she expressed solidarity with victims of sexual assault in the military who were set to testify about their experiences before a Senate Armed Services subcommittee.
“Like you, I am also a military sexual assault survivor,” she said. “But unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time.”
“The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways,” she continued. “In one case, I was preyed upon and raped by a superior officer.”
McSally said that though she had wanted to seek punishment for her abuser, she decided against it after witnessing other victims be mistreated by the military’s hierarchy. When she did try to speak about the rape, she said, she “was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled.”
“I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair,” she admitted. “Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.”
Two-thirds of women who reported sexual assaults in the military in 2017 said they faced retaliation in their units for doing so, according to the Pentagon. Last year, 6,769 sexual assaults were reported in the U.S. military, a ten percent increase from the year prior.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.