After being raped multiple times in the military, Linda Davidson feels so defeated that she has tried to take her own life. “Every day, I look in the mirror, and I hate what I see,” said the Air Force veteran. “I’ve been destroyed by serving my country and am tired of fighting an endless battle,” said Davidson, who suffers from depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, nightmares, and suicidal ideation. None of her attackers were charged or punished, she said. She served from 1988 to 1995.
Protests, brought about by the campus’s rates of sexual assault, have swirled around the University of Connecticut since Alexandra Docken’s viral protest in February of her rape investigation. UConn’s subsequent investigation has raised questions and prompted distrust among some prospective students. In the most recent Clery crime report from the university, taken in 2020, there were seven reported cases of rape on the main Storrs campus and five cases of sexual harassment on the UConn Health campus in Farmington. Docken, from Cockeysville, Maryland, told Hearst Connecticut Media that she filed a Title IX complaint with UConn after she was sexually assaulted by a male student at an off-campus party in August 2021. She said she was discouraged by the school’s investigation of her claim and said there should be “major changes” in how these cases are handled.
In theory, a do-it-yourself rape kit, where a victim of rape or sexual assault collects evidence in the privacy of his or her home, seems like a good idea. Going to the police or a hospital after a rape is immeasurably difficult for some. There’s a stigma, and victims may fear mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement or hospital personnel. But advocates and others say newly introduced home rape kits are roughly as useless as the boxes they come in. There’s no guarantee self-collected evidence is admissible in court, and the kits aren’t nearly as comprehensive as those offered by the state.
Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and every eight minutes that victim is a child, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. People ages 12 to 34 are at the highest risk for rape and sexual assault.
Detective Brendan Gibbs of the New York Police Department said he has investigated 40 to 50 sexual assault cases during his 13 years on the police force. He said the victims have usually ranged in ages from 15 to 17. The victims are mostly Hispanic females who have been assaulted by a relative or a person who is very close to the family, he said.
Bianca Cruz’s Navy career started with a job she loved on a ship in Japan, but after she was sexually assaulted by a sailor, her military life spiraled downward, ending with a “bad paper” discharge after serving 20 months. “If it weren’t for the sexual assault, I would still be in Japan,” said Cruz, 22, a Navy hospital corpsman, who returned home in November 2015. Cruz is among the thousands of sexual assault victims who have been pushed out of the military with a less than honorable discharge, according to a Human Rights Watch report released in May, Booted: Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged US Military Rape Survivors. The Navy diagnosed Cruz with a “personality disorder,” which the Rights Watch report said the military regularly uses to trigger quick dismissals of sexual assault victims.
Cruz is appealing to the Navy Discharge Review Board, requesting that her discharge status be upgraded from general (under honorable conditions) to honorable. Her current discharge status prevents her from receiving G.I. education benefits and re-enlisting in the military.