Linsey shared her military sexual trauma story on the Women of the Military Podcast last year, you can check it out here. It was hard for her to share her story. Taking the step forward to share her experience caused her to experience PTSD. The military culture around sexual assault and rape is a huge problem. It isn’t just the event it is the lack of support from leadership. Not only are women getting assaulted and raped. When they report it they are often not given the support to find justice and healing.
Women veterans have joined together to sign this petition for Congress. If you would like to sign your name or learn more check it out here.
Love and Light
by Linsey Daley
The media often fixates on a conclusion or an ending. A tragic story due to sexual trauma and violence, but in between those sparkling success stories or the devastating losses are the rest of us. The ones just trying to survive.
I spent my childhood in Europe, my dad is retired Navy and my mom is from Scotland, so they did their best to stay overseas. When I graduated from high school I knew that I wanted to move to the United States to live, but I wanted the safety and stability of the military since my parents had plans to retire in England.
Waiting on the Navy
I graduated high school in 2003, but the Navy did not have the job I wanted at the time, I was enrolled in the delayed entry program for a year while I waited for a Hospital Corpsman job to become available. In 2004, at 19 years old, I boarded a plane from Europe to Chicago. I remember being terrified. I hadn’t been to the US since I was 7 years old and here I was with nothing but the clothes I had on, leaving everything I had ever known to go and serve the “world’s greatest Navy.”
Military Sexual Trauma
In 2005 at my very first command I was raped. I was raped by a coworker, a fellow sailor. The man they tell you is your brother and protector. You are told from the first day you join the military that your brothers and sisters are there to have your back, to protect you, and to give their life to save yours. A false sense of security is fed to you from the minute you enter the organization and is perpetuated by covering the crimes done to you during service. I reported my rape and I was met with statements such as
“did you say the word no?” “What did you think was going to happen?” “it’s your own fault.” and the worst one “there is nothing for us to report, it’s your word against his”.
In 2007 I was sexually harassed by an E5 supervisor from another department. He was told to stay away from me because I couldn’t take a joke. In 2008 I received orders to my first ship. I was told by our clinic Senior enlisted leader that “it’ll only be a few months before you’re bent over in an engine room being f*ck&d because let’s face it that’s all women are good for on ships anyways.”
In 2012 I filed a formal report against my E7 supervisor. For both sexual advances and telling me to “go back to my own country” while making jokes about how I didn’t belong. I was sat down by the command E9 and the Command Equal Opportunity Program Manager to tell me if I proceeded with the complaint my career was in jeopardy. At the time, I was a single mother scared that I would not be able to take care of my child. I dropped it. In 2018 I left active duty, with 14 years of service. I gave up my military retirement with only six years left because I was stuck in that in-between for so long it was starting to crush my soul.
The in-between looks like drinking problems and eating disorders.
Cycles of addiction and abusive relationships. The roller coaster ride of self-hate and self-love, but you won’t see that part highlighted in the news. You won’t see the rape victim that takes his or her own life because they just can’t cope anymore. You won’t see the rape victim that loses the house when they can’t go to work and pay bills because someone there looks like their rapist. And you won’t see the nightmares and chronic pain they are in because that doesn’t make the news. We won’t see a change either if we do not start giving victims a safe space to come forward. If we don’t hold people accountable for their actions and if we continue to let the military police their own.
The truth is, there is hope and healing after trauma. We have to start having these uncomfortable conversations and take the shame and blame off of the victims. There is no shame in being a survivor of sexual trauma. The shame is on the aggressor and those that turn a blind eye! When we create that space of safety for victims they are able to be honest about what happened to them. Then they can start their healing journey from victim to survivor.
I am a proud survivor today.
Linsey Daley is the founder and CEO of Healing Heroes LLC, a company that provides support and healing to active duty and veteran survivors of military sexual trauma. She spent 14 years on active duty and then transitioned into the reserves. This was due to undiagnosed and mismanaged PTSD from her experiences with rape and sexual harassment in the Navy. Linsey is a certified trauma support specialist and mindfulness meditation teacher that shares her experiences to show that there is hope and healing after trauma.