Women who served in the military share their harrowing stories of sexual assaults and harassment while on duty, using the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen.
Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and discovery of her remains caused a nationwide outcry.
But before the 20-year-old soldier from Houston went missing, she told her family about the sexual harassment she faced in the service.
However, months later, detectives later found her remains near Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen, Texas.
While her voice may never be heard again, dozens of women in the military are now sounding the alarm once again.
Sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault on social media, they detail what most women experience in the military.
Many of these veterans say they had never shared their stories before in fear of retaliation. That’s what Guillén feared, too, according to her family.
‘You’ll Get a Dishonorable Discharge If You Snitch’
One veteran Coast Guard member shared on Twitter:
“My name is Morgan and #IAMVANESSAGUILLEN I was 18. It was at my first duty station.”
“He was 45. ‘It’s just because you’re fresh meat.’ ‘It will stop eventually.’ ‘You’ll get a dishonorable discharge if you snitch.'”
Another Coast Guard member said:
“In 2006, I was brutally raped by a member of the United States Coast Guard. I was locked up in a closet for reporting the rape.”
“I was blamed, shamed, and eventually lost my career.”
‘You Have to Deal With What You Go Through’
One veteran Navy member from Texas also spoke out, saying she was raped while on duty 30 years ago.
She revealed that she was told that they would throw her overboard if she ever reported it.
“This is not a new thing, but it’s been silenced for so long.”
“I was raped while on a Navy ship in the middle of the ocean. If I had reported it, I was told they would throw me overboard, and my body would never be found. That was 30 years ago. #IAMVANESSAGUILLEN.”
A similar flurry of posts demanding change in the Army emerged on Facebook.
Army veteran Maira Carrier shared:
“I came into the Army when I was 17 years old. I was a victim of sexual assault and harassment as a child, and I thought that the Army was my ticket out of that life.”
“But instead, I came into an even more painful world.”
Carrier added that when she was assaulted right before starting her basic training.
“Right before getting on the bus for basic training, the airport reception NCO kept me back in the airport as the others went to the training center.”
“He took me to a corner to avoid being seen, then proceeded to hit on me and grab the inside of my leg.”
‘We Are the Faces of Military Sexual Trauma and Assault’
Another soldier, Emily Marie, shared that the military failed to seek justice for victims who reported a sexual assault. They also didn’t punish the assailants.
“The military sucks for women. Chances are you WILL be harassed, you WILL be assaulted, and most likely, your command won’t really care.”
“They’ll sweep it under the rug, they’ll make you face your assailant every day as if nothing was wrong.”
“Your tires might be slashed because they know where you live and work. You might see them come into your work center JUST BECAUSE they know it triggers you, and they get a kick out of it.”
And one veteran, Adriana Montes, gave advice to young women planning to join the military.
“Women ask me to this day, ‘Do you think I should join the service?'”
“I have to pull them to the side and ask, ‘how much stress can you handle?’ Because they are going to stress you out to the max.”
The powerful hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen is endless. And it encourages women to come forward, breaking a taboo of not speaking out.