A Place to Begin

We are #notinvisible 

I am struggling to find a place to begin.  Do I tell you all the nitty gritty details to persuade you that I am telling you the truth, do I just simply state what happened and assume that I will be believed, or do I tell you the story in a way that will help you understand wholeheartedly why I wanted to die?  

All I really want is for you to know the truth so that you will understand just how much I loved serving my country.  I don’t want to have to prove anything to anyone anymore.  I don’t want to feel judged.  I don’t want to be paranoid that someone is looking at me with disdain all the while thinking this is why women should not be in the military.  I put the uniform on with pride.  I wanted to have a twenty plus year career.  

Instead, I ended up falling into the deepest darkest depths of despair while I struggled with substance abuse & isolation, worked twice as hard to be half the man, and tried not to take things personally.  

It still feels dirty for me to admit that I was raped by one and sexually assaulted by three other different men in the first two years of my military career.  I was ashamed then and I still am ashamed.  But what’s worse is that after I reported the crimes, I was betrayed by the very people I was willing to take a bullet for.  Traumatized by those experiences, I was thankful that I only experienced gender bias throughout the rest of my career because it paled in comparison.  I look back and ask myself why. 

Why would one stay if they got abused so badly?  

But there are other more important questions that I asked myself instead: 

Why was I the chosen victim? 

Why were there so many perpetrators? 

Why was I the first to speak up and press charges? 

Why didn’t the others report so I would have been protected?

Why am I the bad guy because I reported the crimes? 

Why is everyone downplaying the seriousness of their actions? 

Why am I now a troublemaker? 

Why am I being isolated? 

Why won’t they let me train on the equipment I need to get promoted? 

Why do they keep giving me a hard time about everything? 

Why won’t anybody help me? 

Why can’t I just quit? 

Why am I drinking so much?  

Why am I blowing up at people? 

Why am I crying? 

Why don’t I want anyone to touch me? 

Why can’t I transfer to a new duty station and get a fresh start?     

Why can’t they see how dedicated I am? 

Why can’t they see how hard I work? 

Why won’t they promote me? 

Why did they choose someone below me as the Team Chief? 

Why are you threatening to take my rank away from me? 

Why am I outraged?

Why do I even bother? 

In the end, it doesn’t even matter.  

I cannot even begin to describe to you how difficult it was to find answers to these questions.  I never really understood racism or discrimination until one day I went from hero to zero overnight.  Why?  Because I didn’t want to be sexually assaulted on a daily basis by a predator who was escalating.  Unfortunately, I could not escape it because I didn’t have the choice to just quit.  I had two choices both of which sucked.  I deal with the predator alone which includes always trying to outsmart someone who lives to control and manipulate or I report the behavior to my Chain of Command in an attempt to make it stop and protect anyone else from having to go through what I went through. 

I chose the latter eventually.  I kept quiet to protect my career, I reported the crimes to protect my career, and then I didn’t get help to protect my career.  I believed in the core values of excellence, integrity, and service before self.  I took service before self to a whole new level and believe me, I am not the only woman who has done so.  

Why is it that people think women shouldn’t serve in the military again? 

I am so confused.

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Showing 44 reactions

commented 2012-12-16 15:02:13 -0500
tks for those who made THE INVISIBLE WAR. But I think it will take the VA, DOD and military a multitude of lifetimes to correct this problem. I am a Navy veteran, a male and a victim of a sexual assault. I was threatened by the chain of command with court martial for trying to report it. They said I made it up. So it was never reported, I tried to hang myself, was transferred to rid the unit & base of the problem (me). Got some help from civilian therapy as the VA help is a joke. What about compensation? Don’t we deserve it??? 35+ years later and I still have all the same questions and problems that Jennifer stated on this blog. IT DOES NOT END
@L1SAMARIE retweeted 2012-12-12 05:49:00 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@MariaCuomoCole retweeted 2012-12-11 23:36:53 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@djpsom retweeted 2012-12-11 21:35:52 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@ATRWibben tweeted link to this page. 2012-12-11 21:33:32 -0500
@Twilightseven retweeted 2012-12-11 19:59:54 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@vagrantfilms retweeted 2012-12-11 19:55:29 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@ILinBailey retweeted 2012-12-11 19:48:10 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@MSTJustice retweeted 2012-12-11 19:30:34 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@Invisible_War mentioned @Invisible_War link to this page. 2012-12-11 19:30:02 -0500
RT @mstjustice: Thank you @invisible_war 4 Giving us Our Voices #NotInvisible // Thank YOU!
@MSTJustice mentioned @Invisible_War link to this page. 2012-12-11 19:14:41 -0500
@Nahhtho mentioned @Invisible_War link to this page. 2012-12-10 00:09:31 -0500
According to the US Supreme Court, rape is an occupational hazard. #NotInvisible via @invisible_war
commented 2012-12-09 03:14:06 -0500
Someone is on this page taking items off before I can finish completing my statement! Is it someone who should not be on this page??
commented 2012-12-08 18:10:13 -0500
As soon as I heard on CNN that Leon Panetta took the decisions out of commanders hands I wanted to jump up and down! Now I am so hopeful! And when I read this I wanted to scream “yes!” at the top of my lungs! Everyone needs to read your words. We deserve the answers to all these questions! WHY! We deserve the why and we deserve for this to be brought to light! We’re not crazy, people would understand if they knew what we are put through, and you are helping people to know EXACTLY what its like.
commented 2012-12-04 02:33:13 -0500
Jennifer just saw the movie and then joined and read your blog. It home for me!!! As a retiree myself I look back at the fear and degradation suffered and I question myself each day as to why I allowed it suffered in silence til my last two years. I know that the trauma I suffered had negatively affected me throughout my career as well as after my retirement. I thank God for this movement and for the brave who speak out as together we will grow and heal. Blessings and Prayers Karen
followed this page 2012-12-04 02:25:17 -0500
commented 2012-12-02 16:23:37 -0500
Jennifer-I understand your pain to a degree, I myself had to choose to stand up against a national foodchain due to being raped and molested by several of the male co-workers I worked with. It’s not easy standing up for yourself, but remember if you don’t who will? Think of all the other women that could possibly be saved from a brutal attack by your act of Love. The thing I have to remember is that even in the event that the preditors may never seek justice here on earth, one day will come when they will have to answer to our heavenly father for what they have done and in that moment eternal justice will be dealt to them.
@reedtome tweeted link to this page. 2012-12-01 10:32:08 -0500
A Place to Begin by Jennifer Norris, USAF Retired #NotInvisible #combatcomm #satcom @usairforce @deptofdefense #q21
@natethekiwi tweeted link to this page. 2012-12-01 00:29:48 -0500
A Place to Begin by Jennifer Norris, USAF Retired #NotInvisible #combatcomm #satcom @usairforce @deptofdefense #q21
@stacyl61 tweeted link to this page. 2012-12-01 00:16:30 -0500
A Place to Begin by Jennifer Norris, USAF Retired #NotInvisible #combatcomm #satcom @usairforce @deptofdefense #q21
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