Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Combat + Sexual Trauma = I Can't Even Imagine

Trauma has complex and life-destroying consequences. If you've never been involved in something like that there's a tendency to brush it off and think severely traumatized people can simply get on with their lives, but this is ignorant and wishful thinking, as trauma shatters the self in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent exploration of this is the well-known Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse To Political Terror by Judith Herman (Powells).

We hear of soldiers returning from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress, but many women have the added problem of sexual abuse, assault, and rape. Sexual assault is more than a physical crime, but reaches right into a person and violates the person from within. This is not a few isolated incidents, as explained here, here, and here. If a soldier has more fear of their own than of the "enemy" there is no safety, anywhere for them - not in the barracks, not in the toilet, not even in their own heads.

Support for Suzanne Swift is incredibly important. She was jailed for going AWOL after her repeated attempts to get someone to do something about her ongoing sexual assault was ignored - she was essentially hunted by a predator, and displayed great courage trying to save herself. You can hear her mother tell the extremely moving tale on Democracy Now.

Filed Under: Iraq, Women

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