Sen. Martha McSally was in the Air Force for 22 years and became the first woman fighter pilot to fly in combat. Today, McSally revealed during congressional testimony that she was once raped by a superior officer. She did not name the individual and says she didn’t report the attack at the time because she didn’t have confidence it would be handled appropriately. From Arizona Central:
McSally, 52, did not identify her assailant, at what point in her military career the assault took place, where the alleged rape occurred, or the names of the people she later told.
A spokeswoman for McSally said the senator would not be immediately commenting further about her experiences.
“So, like you, I also am a survivor, but unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted,” said McSally, who was reading from prepared remarks. “Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways. In one case I was preyed upon and raped by a superior officer.
“I stayed silent for many years, but later in my career, as the military grappled with the scandals, and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know I, too, was a survivor. I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled. I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair. Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.
McSally was testifying before a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on the topic of how the military can better respond to sexual assault allegations. Last year, McSally revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that she’d been sexually assaulted by a coach in high school:
The article said that the coach, who was 20 years older than her, coerced her into sex. Although she was uncomfortable, she said the coach kept her from talking about it with others by manipulating her mentally.
“Even though he didn’t physically force me, it certainly was an emotional manipulation,” McSally was quoted in the story as saying.
The man who was identified as the track coach at the time denied ever having sex with McSally and said, “I believe she’s nuts.”
Here’s the video of McSally’s testimony. The quotes above start at about 3 minutes: