Female Veterans With PTSD, Where Are You?


Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I have searched my local and regional Veteran Affairs offices for other female veterans who are in my age demographic, the ones who fought in “the war on terror.” I have talked about various things with a few older women and have been met with sympathy or interest, but they can’t really understand the ways of “the sandbox.”

The contributor with her fellow soldiers
Submitted by Julia

I love shooting a few words with the more mature generations. They look at me like I’m in a different world, which is true. So much is the same and so much is different. My insecurities tell me the ones who don’t say anything think I am a wife of a veteran. I’m used to that, even with my ex-husband. It’s too bad that I hate baseball caps because they all wear them proudly.

It is hard to write or speak about this because it means admitting I’m vulnerable. I was taught that vulnerability is a weakness. It is not though, and I am finding that sometimes I feel better after I share. The shame eventually chips away to reveal strength and perseverance.

I was raped while I was in Iraq by my platoon sergeant. I’m not going to say anything to justify it, because it happened. I have lived on the defensive for too long and I should not have to. There are other things like being shot at, mortar explosions, friends you barbecued with one night who were then gone the next, or the worst, driving past what was left of children. Those are the easier things to talk about because people accept them. There were two serial rapists on my post, four that we knew of in Kuwait with different “MO’s.” They were us, whether they were civilian contractors or in any branch of the military, foreign and domestic.

How am I supposed to talk about this to a group of guys? Any of them could be one of them, or know one of them. It is a polarizing topic in the spirals of my thoughts. It is isolating. I’m reaching out here for other sisters, regardless if you were in the military. I know you’re out there. I understand you may say nothing. I did not for a very long time. We each have our own journey. If anything I want you to know that you are not alone. I’m here and I’m listening in the quiet.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image via Jupiterimages


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A fantasy young teenage girl portrait with an abstract city on a background.

Why I Don't Buy Into 'New Year, New Me' as Someone Who Experienced Sexual Assault

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. And here we sit, the last day of another year. The older I get, the faster they seem to go. While an overused saying, it is an unfortunate [...]
Couldn't accord therapy so I made this

Lawrence Lindell Couldn't Afford Therapy, So He Made a Comic Book

Lawrence Lindell says comics have been in his life since he was young. Also in his life — mental health struggles. Now, the California-native is publishing an autobiographical comic book called “Couldn’t Afford Therapy, So I Made This,” exploring how trauma, his mental health and his identity collide.  The comic is 126 pages, and is broken [...]
young woman alone in empty room with head in hands sitting on floor

What PTSD From Losing a Loved One Is Really Like

“What’s it like?” I’ve been asked that from time to time by well-meaning people — friends who have come to learn about the beast and want to understand. I remain vague. I shrug and say something meaningless, along the lines of, “It’s tough, but I’m used to it.” Because they may not be aware of [...]
A young woman sits on a downtown city bench feeling invisible feeling the unseen difficulty of mental illness

When You're Learning Not to Fight Your PTSD Symptoms

I’m in the throes of fighting against my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. I’m extremely angry at them right now. There are some things going on in my life that I want to change and my symptoms are preventing me from making the changes in a way that makes me feel useful. I want to [...]