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

Sexual Assault in America's Military

Photographer

Mary F. Calvert

11 April, 2015

Karen Scott was raped several times while on active service, and sexually harassed. She was later given a personality disorder discharge, and became homeless. Karen sought help through the VA for medical treatment, mental health services, and shelter she could afford. She is on a cocktail of drugs prescribed by the VA. Karen now lives in rent-assisted accommodation, but is in constant fear that the VA will withdraw her housing voucher.

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
1/200
Focal length
24.0 mm
F-Stop
2.8
ISO
2500
Camera
Nikon D3

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