Because of a death in my family I was not able to attend the viewing of The Invisible War. However, after learning what the movie was about and doing a little research about it (you tubing it). It made me think about my experience with the military.
In 2000 after my high school graduation I decided on a whim to join the military. Even still to this day I don’t know why I decided to do so, I had plenty of other options, but I joined anyhow. I turned 18 in August and left to boot camp in September. I was off to start my Navy career.
Boot camp wasn’t as scary or crazy as I anticipated. The drill instructors could only yell at you and tell you to do push up or sit ups. My mother always yelled at us so I could handle it. After boot camp I went to school in Chicago then in Virginia. After school I was stationed on a carrier with a home port out of Seattle Washington. I was still only 18 I was very far from home and all alone. The actuality of what I did was finally setting in.
I eventually figured out who to talk to and who was trouble, who was sincere and who were creepers. I hung tight with the guys in my division; we were getting close like a family. There were only three other girls in my division which contained about 75 people or so. I rarely associated with the other girls, one was really prissy, one was kind of rude and mean, and the last was really loose and liked a lot of attention from guys. I was considered the tom boy out of the girls, a title I accepted and was proud of in comparison to the titles the other girls received. I was going about my days with ease, and the cherry on top was that my boyfriend and I were staring to get serious and talking about moving in together after our ship docked. Yes, my life was finally becoming routine and I loved it. One day at morning quarters there was an announcement that we were going to get a new Division officer. I never knew how that news would affect my life forever.
He was young, tall and very handsome, he favored Alex Rodriguez. All the girls swooned over him, and he knew it. I paid him no mind, he was an officer, way older than me and I had a boyfriend who loved me and I loved him. A couple days after he was in the office I started to notice he was doing little things that made me uncomfortable. It started with longer than usual pats on the shoulder, or staring when I was doing something. He also liked to grab papers from me and nonchalantly graze my hand with his. I ignored it for a while but then I told one of the girls that I worked with. She said just say something while the two of you are alone so you don’t cause unneeded trouble. I did just that, I asked if he could please just treat me like one of the guys and I did not need special treatment or extra praise because I was a woman. He looked at me shocked and then he said, “You know A-Rod (a nickname I was given) you are a pretty girl, however, I would never do anything to jeopardize my career or yours so I’m not sure if you like me or like attention but this could never happen” I felt so stupid, I was speechless, I just turned around and walked out. I couldn’t believe he tried to twist it like I was the one doing stuff, I felt to dumb!
His harassment went on for a long time; I was embarrassed and didn’t know who I could tell. I didn’t want to cause any problems and I surely didn’t want people to think I was the one making the moves on him. My boyfriend eventually noticed the change in my attitude so I was forced to tell him that I was being harassed. Without hesitation he found the lieutenant and in not so nice words told him to leave me alone, and if he wasn’t an officer he would have kicked his a**. The harassment stopped for a while but then started again and it was even worse and more brazen. He would make comments in front of people and I could do nothing, he was in charge and everyone else was intimidated my him to.
One night there was a really big meeting and all the head honchos were in our office. The lieutenant and I were in charge of briefing them on what was going on in regards to our fleet. The brief went well and the lieutenant and I were cleaning up after, he reached for my face and started caressing it and saying “oh your my little tom boy, you are not like these other girls in here.” He was now grabbing my face and pulling it closer to his. I didn’t know what to do; I never thought he would actually try something physical, I figured he was all talk and just a jerk. “Oh my god was this really happening!!!” Just as he pulled my face in closer and closer to his the captain of our division walked in. I must have had a horrified look on my face because the captain grabbed him “what the hell are you doing”? I just looked at them both; I actually had tears in my eyes I could not believe what just happened.
I know my story doesn’t compare to the stories in the movie but I also know the little that did happen to me affected my life a lot. I still think about that day and what might have happened if my Captain didn’t walk in. Who knows how far the lieutenant would have taken it?
After that incident the lieutenant was sent to another ship, I had to fill out a report about everything that happened and for how long it was going on. My whole chain of command got into trouble because so many people knew it was going on and did nothing.
I recently spoke with some of my friends that are still in the Navy and they told me that the lieutenant killed himself last year. I am not sure why he did but I honestly think it had something to do with all the horrible stuff he did to people, and especially the young girls who looked up to him as a leader.