2016 Photo Contest, Long-Term Projects, Stories, 1st prize

Sexual Assault in America's Military

Photographer

Mary F. Calvert

21 March, 2014

Natasha Schuette (21) was pressured not to report being assaulted by her drill sergeant during basic training, at Fort Jackson North Carolina. She refused to back down. Staff Sergeant Louis Corral is now serving four years in prison for assaulting her and four other female trainees. The US Army rewarded Natasha for her courage in reporting her assault, and the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention office distributed a training video featuring her story. She is now stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The incidence of sexual assault on women by their colleagues in the US Armed Forces is high. Many women see reporting attacks to their commands as difficult or futile. Very few sexual assaults are reported and only a fraction of those get to court. The trauma of a sexual assault, and the ensuing emotional distress, may lead to long-term personal issues. The effects of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) include drug and alcohol dependence, homelessness, and an increased risk of suicide. Challenges for women veterans are not always met by existing vet programs. Women veterans form the fastest growing segment of the homeless population of the US, and are four times more likely to be homeless as other women.

The photographer, who comes from a military family, made it her mission to document the lives of MST survivors, and to keep the issue talked about. She learned that they formed a network of support for each other, but that homeless survivors were a hidden population, who rarely spoke to others about their experiences.

About

Mary F. Calvert

Calvert believes that journalists have a duty to shine a light into the deepest recesses of the human experience and provide a mirror for society to examine itself. Mary has b...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/40
Focal length
31.0 mm
F-Stop
2.8
ISO
1600
Camera
Nikon D3S

This image is collected in