On Wednesday in a Senate Armed Services subcommittee, Senator Martha McSally, a veteran of the Air Force and the first woman to fly in combat after the ban on women was lifted, revealed that she is a rape survivor and that the rape occurred while actively serving in the military. In an emotional speech, she stated that “like you, I am also a military sexual assault survivor,” that her attacker was a superior Air Force officer, and how that experience led to question her commitment to the Air Force after 18 years of service.
According to the Department of Justice, in 2018 there were 6,769 reports of sexual assault. However, as Senator McSally revealed that she, like many survivors of sexual assault, did not report the attack due because she was afraid of repercussions and lacked faith in the reporting system. The military has tried to combat the issue through programs and initiatives but there has been very little success. Senator McSally urged commanders to be held responsible for lack of inaction in dealing with reports of sexual assault and to actively remove attackers from the ranks.
This year, Senator McSally is the second female GOP member to come forward as a survivor of sexual assault. In January, Senator Joni Ernst, an army combat veteran and a survivor of mental, physical, and sexual assault, shared her story as a survivor to bring awareness to the seriousness and threat of sexual assault. Women, such as the senators, give power to the #MeToo movement as they share their stories with the public in hopes of changing the culture surrounding sexual assault.
Their perseverance helped mark a place in history for women. Senator McSally paved the way for future women pilots in the Air Force and today, as Senator, she is trying to fix the broken Uniform Code of Military Justice process.
Media Sources: CNN, 3/7/2019; ABC News, 3/6/2019; The Hill, 3/6/2019