"According to the Department of Defense estimates, over 19,000 service members are raped or sexually assulted every single year, mostly women, some men...only 13% ever report these rapes or sexual assaults...." Congress woman Speier, April 13, 2011 (Congressional record).
On May 30 , 2006, Seaman Bertzikis was raped by a shipmate when whe was stationed in Burlington, Vermont, During a hike, her rapist threw her onto the ground, punched her in the face, pinned her down and raped her on the ground!
She reported the rape to her chain of command who told her to "stop speaking about it or she would be charged herself with the military equivalent of slander. She then obtained photographs and admissions made by her rapist through the freedom of Information Act, but command failed to bring him to justice in anyway.
Instead, they forced Seaman Bertzikis to live on the same floor with the rapist, where she was in constant fear of him.
Command also told the Seaman to work with her rapist and use that time together to "work out their differences".
She was later transferred to Boston where Coast Guard personnel called he a "liar: and a "f*cking whore".
When she was on base performing her duties one time, she was approached by a group of Coast Guard personnel cornered Seaman Bertzikis and tried to rip off her uniform.
They called her a "Crazy lying whore" and said she would "pay for snitching" on their friend, They threatened to rape her again.
When she reported that, the Coast Guard's victim advocate told her not to pursue disciplinary action because she would be seen as being "difficult".
Seaman Bertzikis was denied rank because of the pending investigation, despite the fact that she had met all the necessary requirements.
She described her ordeal as "horrific".
"If I told them that my house was broken into, not one person would question me, blame me, or say that I was lying. But when I say that my body was broken into, people automatically feel that they have the right to judge me, to doubt me, and to blame me?"
Seaman Bertzikis story shows the urgent need to protect service members from abuse.