Senator reveals she was raped by a superior officer while in the Air Force

Matt Saintsing
March 06, 2019 - 3:14 pm
Senator Martha McSally

© Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY NETWORK

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said a superior officer raped her while she was in the Air Force during a Congressional hearing on sexual assault in the military on Wednesday. 

“I also am a survivor, but unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted,” she said, reading from prepared remarks.

McSally continued, “Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time, I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways. In one case, I was preyed upon and raped by a superior officer.” 

The first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, the 26-year military veteran added that as years went on she “felt the need to let some people know I too was a survivor,” an emotional McSally said as she choked up. 

“I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair,” she said. “Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.” 

Her comments come weeks after, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who served in the Iowa National Guard revealed she was raped in college and abused by her ex-husband.

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In an interview with Bloomberg, Ernst said she “didn’t want to share it with anybody, and in the era of #MeToo survivors, I always believed that every person is different and they will confront their demons when they’re ready.” 

“And I was not ready,” said Ernst. 

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Reports of sexual assaults and harassment spiked nearly 10 percent in 2017, the same year a massive online nude-photo sharing scandal rocked the Marine Corps. 

McSally said the public, not just military personnel, have to demand more of higher-ranking military officials. 

An Air Force spokesperson issued a statement after McSally's announcement in support of the freshman Senator. 

"The criminal actions reported today by Senator McSally violate every part of what it means to be an airman," said Air Force Capt. Carrie Volpe. "We are appalled and deeply sorry for what Senator McSally experienced and we stand behind her and all victims of sexual assault. We are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate this reprehensible behavior and breach of trust in our ranks."

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