Sunday, April 15, 2012

military labeling rape victims as "crazy"

In the past century there has been a wide range of news covering issues in the military specifically, the “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy. However, there are many other issues soldiers deal with while serving their country.  One issue that is particularly disturbing is soldiers are labeling their fellow women comrades as “crazy” after these women confess they have been raped.

            This hits home for Stephanie Schroeder, Anne Moore, and Jenny McClendon whom joined the military because they wanted to serve their country. Schroeder was a mere 21 year old with an associate’s degree when she was shipped to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp. Two years later she was diagnosed with a personality disorder and the Maries claimed her psychologically unfit for the Corps. Moore enlisted after 9/11 and was shipped to Germany and also diagnosed with a personality disorder. McClendon was diagnosed with personality disorder while she was working as a sonar operator on a Navy destroyer. Why were these women all diagnosed with a personality disorder? It just so happened that they all were diagnosed and discharged from the army after reporting a sexual assault.
McClendon proclaims, "I remember thinking this is absurd; this is ridiculous. How could I be emotionally unstable? I'm very clear of mind, especially considering what had happened. It was a ludicrous diagnosis."
Unfortunately, this is a pattern that is seen in all branches of the armed services. Even though the defense department has a zero tolerance policy, there were 3,191 military sexual assaults reported in 2011. These statistics are assumed to be much higher however, because of the numbers of sexual assaults that are not reported. The pentagon estimates the actual number to be 19,000.
"The number of sexual assaults in the military is unacceptable," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at a news conference in January. "Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to keep America safe. We have a moral duty to keep them safe from those who would attack their dignity and their honor."
            Anu Bhagwati, a former commander of the marines says that this is a problem that is easily swept under the rug. Most units don’t want to deal with this sort of problem and slapping on a false diagnosis onto these women gives the military an “easy fix”.
            The DSM-IV classifies a personality disorder as a long-standing pattern of maladaptive behavior. However, Schroeder, Moore and McClendon never had any personality type issue in their lives previous to this diagnosis. Individuals with the disorder tend to get in trouble more often, get fired from jobs and cannot sustain relationships. In this cause it makes little sense why the military would diagnose these women with personality disorders when they are functioning normally. They make it though basic training and most are deployed over seas and still doing fine.

            “Dr. Liza H. Gold, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, says it's a rule of thumb among psychiatrists not to diagnose someone with a personality disorder in the middle of a traumatic experience like a divorce, litigation or the aftermath of a sexual assault.”
            The way the military handles this type of issue creates a Secondary injury for victims. Survivors say that the lack of response from their fellow soldiers adds emotional trauma. These women feel a strong sense of betrayal that is understandable when their allegations are pushed aside.
            The pentagon has been making changes to their polices in order for victim of such assault to seek justice. For example, they have adapted new rules that combat veterans diagnosed with a personality disorder have to be interviewed by peers or a mental health professional. Moore and Schroeder agree that they would still be serving in the military if the military had tried and punish their rapist and allowed them to switch units.
            Overall, this is a very serious issue women may face who are serving in the armed forces. The pentagon needs to make continuous efforts to stop this problem because victims’ lives are shattered and broken because of inaction. 

*To her these audios of these women's stories click HERE


Martin, David S., Jonathan Binder, and Sean O'Key. "Rape Victims Say Military Labels Them 'crazy' -" CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <>.


  1. I will say a couple things on this matter. Having served in the military I can say that sexual assault happens in the military just like it does in the civilian world. However, I disagree that the military has a history of sweeping these incidents under the rug. In fact, I would say it's just the opposite. They take sexual assault allegations very very seriously. I have seen a couple Marines have to go through this process and it was not by any means a situation they took lightly. I can not speak for these women, I don't know all the facts in their stories, but I can say that if their stories are true they are the a small minority.

  2. This is so sad that people go risk their lives for us and in the process they are being assaulted and some even released due to being “crazy”. I couldn’t believe the numbers that were given, in 2011 there were 3,191 sexual assaults in the military and the Pentagon saying it is more like 19,000. This is a serious problem that should be dealt with I only hope the numbers will decrease this year.

  3. Last semester, I did a group project on sexual assaults in the military and was absolutly floored to see the amount of women that are attacked each year. I think in order to try to prevent this from happening, we need to educate the male military population on how harmful it can be to women. Also, if an accusation does occur, it should be taken seriously and not swept under the rug. I remember from my presentation, sometimes the women would be discharges while her attacker was promoted to a higher position. What kind of standard is this setting for men in our society? It also leads me to wonder what will happen when the men come home from their military duties, will they become rapists on the streets who know more tactical and abrasive moves for how to get a woman to do what he wants? How will this also effect the women who are discharged from the military for something they didn't bring on themselves? To me, this is a huge injustice and more people should know about the statistics about this issue. These women are fighting for our rights so who is fighting for theirs?

  4. If this is the case in the military I would be very disappointed in our government as a whole. But this might just be rare occurrance and hopefully this is not how rape is dealt with in the service.

  5. It’s crazy to think that these women put their lives on the line and sacrifice so much just to be treated so poorly and inhumane. I would think that the military would take these things more seriously instead of labeling the women as crazy and sending them home. I really think that there should be undercover cops and people of report these things, as well as the people who cover it up. It’s sad that these women have to fear for their lives and then for their safety and respect at all times. What’s even worse is that the people who are in charge of running our county’s military turn more than a blind eye to it, but they encourage it by labeling them as crazy. This need s to stop!!!

  6. This is not the first time I have heard of this happening to women in the military. The abuse that I read that women in the military endure is so disturbing. I have read some women even being raped and murdered with the military ruling it an accidental death or a suicide. To have the courage to come forward to tell what happened and then be labeled as crazy shows the lack of responsibility the military has for under represented groups. This is not an issue that is broadcast for the world to hear about it so I am glad that you did a blog about it.