Apr 05 2011
‘I was in the middle of the viper’s pit’: Soldier describes gang rape as male-on-male sexual assault in the military increases
4th April 2011
Some soldiers keep silent about male-on-male sexual assault because they don’t want anyone to know, don’t think anything will be done or are afraid of retaliation. But nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for ‘military sexual trauma’ at the Department of Veterans Affairs last year – up from just over 30,000 eight years ago.
Greg Jeloudov was fired up with patriotism and a desire to provide for his family when he joined the U.S. Army – but instead was bullied and sexually abused by soldiers.
Before joining the Army, in a previous career as an actor he had appeared in films such as Braveheart and King Arthur, but arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia, in May 2009. Mr Jeloudov – laughed at for his Russian-Irish accent, acting background and New York address – was labelled a ‘champagne socialist’ and ‘commie faggot’ by soldiers. ‘We don’t like actors here,’ they told him. ‘We especially don’t like Russian and Irish actors.’
Less than two weeks after arriving, aged 35, he said he was gang-raped by men who claimed they were ‘showing him who was in charge of the United States’. ‘After lights went out we were left to ourselves and the drill sergeant would only come down if there was an emergency, it happened in the shower just before lights out. They wanted to get me down. The attack certainly happened out of the blue – they went for me in the shower. I felt deflated, depressed and dejected.’
Now Mr Jeloudov suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and takes 13 different types of medicine for issues such as nightmares, depression, flashbacks and pain. ‘The psychological impact is unreal because you’re always irritable and you’re not sleeping or connecting with people properly,’ he said. Mr Jeloudov has flashbacks before he goes to bed, gets memories triggered by films which contain rape scenes and said he ‘nearly committed suicide by overdosing’.
But commanders allegedly refused to believe something like this would happen at the barracks and told him: ‘It must have been your fault. You must have provoked them.’ He described the whole incident as being ‘in the middle of the viper’s pit’. ‘We don’t like to think that our men can be victims,’ Kathleen Chard, chief of the post traumatic-stress unit at the Cincinnati VA, told Newsweek. ‘We don’t want to think that it could happen to us. If a man standing in front of me who is my size, my skill level, who has been raped – what does that mean about me? I can be raped, too.’
Soldier-on-soldier sex assault was not recognised as an offence by the Department of Defense until 1992 – and to begin with, only female victims were acknowledged. But more than 110 men last year reported sexual assault by other men – almost three times as many as in 2007, with actual victim numbers believed to be much higher. One in 15 men in the Air Force would report being sexually assaulted, compared with one in five women, according to a report last month.
‘One of the reasons people commit sexual assault is to put people in their place, to drive them out,’ Mic Hunter, author of ‘Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse in America’s Military’, said. ‘Sexual assault isn’t about sex, it’s about violence.’ Mr Hunter and others say the end of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ military’s policy could help the military address the issue. ‘I wouldn’t say that the repeal is going to make it safe – but male victims will be a little bit less reluctant to report their assaults,’ said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center – a think tank on gays in the military.
The Pentagon said a 2010 survey it conducted showed many men who don’t report sexual attacks keep silent because they didn’t want anyone to know, didn’t think anything would be done or were afraid of retaliation.
It’s hard to find sympathy for someone who was prepared to kill for something as idiotic as their country, but it seems he was ignorant/naive of the sort of people he was joining and it’s good that he has spoken out.