Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of Military Sexual Trauma.
The next morning, Chris was in the other bed next to Molina. She was sleeping on her stomach in her bra and shorts. The back strap had been undone. She accused Molina of trying something while she was asleep. I thought I might have an ally in Chris. I spoke up. "You too? He raped me last night after saying you were missing and I had to help find you."
I turned out that Chris had been in The Party Room the entire night until late when she came to The Quiet Room to sleep. Greg didn’t seem to believe it. I knew he knew what happened with John and me and he just wanted to get as far away from me as he could. He never spoke to me again. Verch, the platoon leader tried to sort things out. The unanimous decision was for everyone to keep their mouths shut so no one would get in trouble and Molina was suppose dot stay away from me and Chris. I wanted to forget the whole night.
We all tried to act like nothing happened. Chris invited me to the post pool and loaned me a swimsuit. While swimming around the pool, one of the guys from another platoon hit on me and started making out with me in the pool. I let him. Saying "no" means nothing. It was better to let them do what they wanted and pretend to like it because that is what they wanted. Another guy asked me to a movie and I went. He wanted to mess around too. I gave him a hand job in the dark. It was what he wanted and I didn’t care about anything.
Turning into that was a way from me to survive and be invisible to most but still find a way to get someone to give me attention/affection even if it wasn’t real. I could be close to another human being although still feeling very alone. Being close to someone even for a little while and for all the wrong reasons made me feel like I was still normal though I clearly wasn’t and really didn’t feel it. If I could immerse myself in someone or something, I could forget. If I could get through the rest of AIT, I’d never have to see any of these people again.
Those that did know what happened stopped talking to me within days. I went back to class and sat across the room form Molina who laughed and joked with his friends like nothing happened. Fewer people talked to me and when they did I snapped back. I fell further and further into a dark hole in my mind. I could pretend anything outside of class. I could be tough, mouthy, and aggressive. I could be forceful and assertive. In class was totally different. I had nothing to think about, no act to put on. Just listening to lectures of motor pool safety and reading wiring diagrams. And I thought. I thought about every second of that one night. I thought about what could happen if anyone found out. More than thinking, I was so totally consumed with anger and disgust. He was right there, not more than ten feet from me and I could do nothing. I didn’t want to go near him. I wanted him to disappear. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to be invisible and in class I was…at first.
Time weighed heavily. I had weeks left before his light-wheeled class split from my Fuel and Electrical class for MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) specific training. We were still in the basic classroom curriculum everyone had to take. I felt angry sometimes and sad much of the time. Most of all I felt numb. I discovered that if I cut myself, I hardly felt it and mostly didn’t feel anything. I had bought a camouflage watch with a compass that I wore with my uniform. It was a buckle style and the pin that fit through the holes in the band was quite sharp. One day in class, I was absent mindedly playing with my watch and started scratching my hand. I didn’t feel a thing as the pin scratched away layers of flesh. It didn’t bleed much, especially if I scraped the skin wider instead of deeper. When the first scratch on he back of my hand at the webbing of the thumb and first finger started bleeding, I moved on to another spot below the knuckle on my thumb. I was enthralled by cutting into my flesh without feeling more than a light sting.
When I looked across the room or the memory of that night came into my mind, I cut a new spot moving from my hand to my wrist. I cut several one inch slashes on the inside of my wrist. When one started to bleed more than the others, I pressed it to my uniform and started on my forearm. This has got to hurt. This is sensitive skin, I thought. I scraped two longer gashes into the inside of my forearm. It burned a little but for the most part was painless. I started to worry that I might cut too deep. Who cares. No one sees me anyway. When I bled I grew concerned someone might notice and I would get in trouble. I kept cutting anyway.