Speaking at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona revealed she is a sexual assault survivor, saying a superior officer raped her during her Air Force service.
During the hearing on military sexual assault and prevention, McSally told witnesses and colleagues about feeling “ashamed and confused” and said she blamed the attack on herself. She said she didn’t report her assault because she didn’t trust the system, and stayed silent for years before the military’s sweeping failure to appropriately respond to reports of sexual assault made her feel the need to come forward. When she did try to share her experience, she said she was “horrified” at the response.
“I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair,” McSally, an Air Force colonel and combat veteran, said. “Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.”
Despite such despair, McSally said she decided she wanted to be a voice for other survivors.
“So, this is personal for me too, but it’s personal from two perspectives. As a commander who led my Airmen into combat, and as a survivor of rape and betrayal,” she said.
Read McSally’s statement in full: