Conflict & Justice

Sexual Abuse Victim Compares Military Service to Being Trapped In 'Domestic Violence Relationship'

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Jennifer Norris enlisted in the Air Force when she was 24-years-old. (Photo: Protect Our Defenders)

US military leaders were summoned to the White House on Thursday for a crisis meeting about sexual assault in the Armed Forces. Sgt. Jennifer Norris knows the issue well. She's a veteran of the US Air Force and is now a member of Protect Our Defenders Advocacy Committee.

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Sgt. Norris' problems began in 2006, shortly after she'd enlisted in the Air Force as a 24-year-old. Her recruiter invited her to a party at his home in Maine where she says he raped her.

Norris explains why she didn't press charges at the time.

"I'd just started the Air Force. So the last thing I wanted to do was go into the commander before I even left for basic training and say, 'Hey, your recruiter just raped me.' I was still just trying to figure it all out," Norris says.

Sgt. Norris says she "soldiered on" and started climbing the Air Force ladder. She received technical training and got security clearances. But at her permanent duty station in Maine she says she was assaulted by several of her superiors. When she finally did report the abuse, she says she was labelled a troublemaker.

Since leaving the military in 2010, she's dedicated herself speaking out on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse throughout the Armed Forces.

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