Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military is a hard look at the extraordinary culture of violence and sexual abuse committed within the U.S. Military. A must read for anyone in the military, considering the military, or knows someone in the military.
Colleen Mussolino an Army cook in the 1960’s, details being gang-raped by four Soldiers who took her into the woods. Colleen fought and screamed as they held her down and raped her. The Soldiers’ knees were on her arms to keep her from fighting. They beat her unconscious and gang-raped her. When she regained consciousness she was bruised on her neck, head, jaw and arms, and was bleeding down her thighs. Colleen ran to the road for help and some MP’s (Military Police) stopped and took her to the hospital. She was taken to the CID (Criminal Investigation Division) and interrogated from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. five days a week for six weeks. They threatened her with a dishonorable discharge if she did not sign a paper saying she would not prosecute.
“I felt betrayed and made the criminal. I felt like a prisoner of war instead of a woman Soldier who was gang-raped!”*
Sharon Mixon, a twenty-one year old decorated combat medic in Desert Storm was devastated by her experience of being gang-raped while waiting to process out of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in 1991. Someone in line with her offered her a drink, which she accepted.
“The next thing I remember is waking up face down on a cot. Somebody was on top of me, penetrating me. I was being held down. And there were six men taking turns raping me. They were U.S. Soldiers, and they told me that if I told anybody that they would kill me. But I went to the MP’s anyway. And they told me the same thing. They laughed and said we will always know where to find you. And if you open your mouth, you know what’sgonna happen.”
“Sarah Blum’s book, Women Under Fire, is a stunning revelation of sexual abuse in the U.S. Armed Forces. As Blum’s book makes scathingly clear, this criminal activity–demeaning, degrading and despicable–is far too prevalent in each of the armed services. Action is needed–comprehensive, effective and swift–before sexual abuse rips out the very heart of the military.
The most cohesive bond in a fighting force is not Mom and apple pie or patriotism. It’s the bond of soldierhood, the ironlike grip forged by young men and women fighting alongside one another in a common, life-or-death struggle. Destroy this bond and you destroy the fighting force.
Sarah Blum’s book, Women Under Fire, documents a surefire way to destroy this bond: raping one of your buddies. Stopping sexual abuse in the military will require leaders at all levels to crack down—hard. It’s the only way. Leaders who don’t are as guilty as the rapists.”
– Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (Retired), former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell