Up & Coming Weekly

March 12, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MARCH 13-19, 2019 UCW 5 Yes, it can happen to you by MARGARET DICKSON OPINION U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., stunned her Senate colleagues and her fellow Americans last week by revealing at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee that a superior officer raped her during her 26 years of service as an Air Force fighter pilot. Her disclosure comes on the heels of a similar admission in January by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, that she was raped while she was in college and was later abused physically and emotionally by her husband. U.S. Rep. Kate Porter, D-Calif., has also said she was a victim of domestic abuse during her marriage. Make no mistake. McSally was the first woman to fly as an Air Force fighter pilot, hardly a job for the faint of heart of either gender. McSally, Ernst and Porter have also made their ways to the high- est level of our government, elected by millions of Americans to represent their interests in Congress — also not responsibilities for the faint of heart. In other words, these women and millions of oth- ers less well-known are not people we would think of as likely victims. At the same time, they are also not unusual. McSally said in interviews that she did not report the assault at the time because she did not trust the system. She was correct in her assessment. When she began talking about her experience, she said, "I felt like the system was raping me all over again." Ernst and Porter also began speaking about their experiences long after the fact. Ours is a military community, and it defies reason to imagine that women — and some men — who are our friends and neighbors have not experienced sexual assaults. Such assaults are notoriously dif- ficult to prosecute because they occur in private and involve "he said, she said" evidence in which the per- petrator says sex was consensual and the victim says it was not. e mostly male military culture coupled with its hierarchical structure mean that many victims make the same choice McSally made not to report what happened to them. Someone reading these words may well have made the same decision, often out of fear of career-changing retaliation. ere are some positive signs, though. e Defense Department claims reporting is up by 10 percent across the services. e change is even more dramatic at our nation's service academies, where reports of sexual assaults are up 50 percent. Disclosures by vic- tims like these women in Congress and other public figures also shine light on such crimes and encourage other victims to come forward. Also, slow-as-molasses Congress is taking such as- saults more seriously. Led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., now a candidate for president, lawmakers have removed the statute of limitations on assault and rape cases, criminalized retaliation against people who report such crimes, and mandated dishonorable discharges of dismissal of service members convicted of sexual assault or rape. Efforts to remove sexual assault cases from the military decision-making chain of command and put them directly in the hands of military prosecu- tors have thus far failed but could be reintroduced as spotlights continue to shine and get brighter. It is clear that McSally, Ernst and Porter felt alone with their experiences, as do victims in our commu- nity. ere is help. Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County has assisted people in need of support since the late-1970s. e phone number is 910-485-7273. e National Domestic Violence hotline does the same at its website or by calling 800-799-7233. If it can happen to Martha McSally, it can happen to us, to our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends and to men we love. MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200. U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., was the first woman to fly as an Air Force fighter pilot. She recently revealed that she was raped by a superior officer while serving her country. Photo by Gage Skidmore on Wikimedia Commons one year special $ 15 for UP & CoMING WEEKLY rEadErs oNLY you save 89% off Tv GuIDe MaGaZINe Get A GreAt DeAL from tV GuiDe mAGAzine start Your subscription online, By Mail or Call online: tvguidemagazine.com/newsoffer mail: complete order form below call: 1-800-365-1940 WHeN CaLLING use PRoMo: K6fNsWPZZ Every issue delivers inside scoop on your favorite shows Breaking news keeps you in the know Highlights help guide you to what's worth watching Your favorite stars take you behind the scenes 28 Pages of easy-to-use primetime listings GrEaT rEasoNs To sTarT YoUr sUBsCrIPTIoN

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