Confronting Military Sexual Trauma 

Army veteran BriGette Mccoy is advocating for the victims of MST - including herself

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click to enlarge SQUARED AWAY: Private BriGette Mccoy at Fort Jackson in South Carolina in 1987, her first year in the Army.
  • Courtesy BriGette McCoy
  • SQUARED AWAY: Private BriGette Mccoy at Fort Jackson in South Carolina in 1987, her first year in the Army.

I loved my job. I knew my stuff. I trained people. I wasn't afraid of computers — I would work on them and fix them. I learned everything I could about the system. I loved Germany, the people, the experience. I loved buying clothes in Germany. I loved having a tailor. I loved wearing Italian leather. I bought a lot of things. Probably too much.

I was waiting on my clearance; it hadn't come in yet. Somewhere between the end of May and the beginning of July, they had me work for the commander. Well, they merged both of the commanders' offices and their orderly rooms, so only one office [the orderly staff] took over. I ended up working for this NCO [non-commissioned officer], and he seemed very nice. He seemed like he was very concerned that I do well in my career. He would give me jobs and I would finish them quickly and do them well. He took a special interest in me and I thought it was genuinely about helping me to advance my career, an experienced soldier to a new soldier. I was thrilled that someone would take the time and do that.

He said we were going to go to dinner. He was going to have some great news to tell me, and we were going to celebrate my birthday. When he said it was just going to be me and him, I didn't think anything of it. It was no big deal. We went to a restaurant — I have no idea where because I hadn't been in the country long enough to know where I was. It was in a hotel. We sat down and ate. There wasn't anything that made me feel uncomfortable. He said, "By the way, I put in your paperwork for you to get promoted." So we had a drink, we toasted to that. And then, he said, "I have something else to show you."

And we got in this elevator — like this old elevator with the gate that you slide across, I'd never seen anything like that — and as we were going up, you could see the whole bottom floor of this hotel, the foyer, the restaurant. He never said where we were going. I was just following him. He opened the door, and I went alongside of him and went in the room, and as my eyes adjusted I'm thinking, "Why would he bring me in here?" because I'm seeing it's a bed, a lamp, and a little table.

And when I turned around to ask him, that's when ... I won't say he attacked me, because he didn't hit me, he didn't slam me or anything like that. He just came close to me and began touching and kissing me. I was really confused, like, "Why is this person doing this?" It struck me as so out of character. He'd said things jokingly, all the guys in the service did, but he had never made me feel afraid to be alone with him.

After everything happened, I was scared. He was giving me my clothes asking me, "Are you OK?" I remember turning my head away and nodding. But I was scared. If he did this to me, is he really going to take me back? I didn't even know where I was. The whole way back, I was just staring out the car window.

He was an NCO. A senior NCO. And here I was an E2 [Private]. There was no way my word was going to go against his. I had no confidence. At all. And Monday morning, I went to work, and he worked with me like nothing had happened.

My commanding officer actually asked me if everything was OK. I just said, "Yeah. Everything's great. I'm fine. Everybody's good." After she talked to me, she went to him and said specifically they needed to find out what was holding up my [security] clearance. I'd been waiting for months. It was taking forever. A day or two later my clearance came through, and I was in the communications center working. He was holding it up. I think he had planned the whole thing, down to the letter.

I don't think consciously I was thinking about it. I think that subconsciously there were a lot of negative thoughts going on. That I'm a bad person. That there's something wrong with me, that I must have some letter on my head. Because he wasn't the only person. Someone else did the same thing [a few months later] — but he came into my room while I was sleeping. I woke up and he was on top of me. I knew he had been drinking, but I was confused about how he got into my room. I know I locked the door. First of all, where I'm from, I would lock the door anyway, and after everything that happened, I would always lock the door. I just told him to get off of me, and he did and he left. And I thought, maybe I just had a dream. I couldn't put all the pieces together. The next morning, I was getting dressed, and he came to me and said, "Please don't tell anybody." That's how I knew it wasn't a dream.

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