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Former female soldier says ‘every day a rape threat’

The stories of women sexually assaulted in the military keep pouring in to Senator Patty Murray, who’s collecting testimony for her bill to give sexual assault victims new rights and protections.

“It is absolutely unconscionable to me that a fellow servicemember, the person you rely on to have your back, would commit such a terrible crime against one of their fellow servicemembers,” said the Washington Democrat.

At a news conference in Seattle Friday, Murray was joined by two former military women who related their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.

“And it was very normal to be in a culture of harassment,” said former Iraq Army veteran Nicole Bowen. She was sexually assaulted, adding “every day while I was deployed was a rape threat.”

Former U.S. Marine Angela Arellano said she was raped by a senior Marine Corps member while stationed in Japan in the 1990s. She said an investigation found no wrongdoing by her alleged attacker and Arellano said she was disciplined and docked pay.

“When I came back to the states, that’s when my PTSD really started to kick in,” according to Arellano, who said she was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward.

Murray’s bill, the “Combatting Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013”, would expand the Military Sexual Assault prevention program. Among other provisions, the bill would offer victims of sexual assault a military lawyer to help them pursue their cases.

The Defense Department estimates there were 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military in 2012 with fewer than 3,400 cases actually reported.

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