PFC Castillo @ Fort Bliss

I joined the Army when I was 18 years old. My first duty station was Fort Bliss, in El Paso Texas.

I made a lot of friends while I was in the military, sat through many sharp briefings, and I heard many stories about the base. Before my 20th birthday, a friend I was close with decided to have drinks together. I had gotten the night off so we met up and shared a bottle of strawberry margarita mix.

I had befriended a male soldier (Specialist), while inprocessing to the unit. We were in different brigades, so he agreed to pick me up from my barracks that night and go to his room, watch movies and have drinks only. I stated, beforehand, I was engaged to another soldier and had no interest in having any relations with him, and I asked that he respect my relationship. He agreed to respect my relationship, promised my fiancé that he would not try to make any sexual advances towards me and that I was guaranteed to be in safe hands.

We spent the evening laughing, joking, watching movies together. The first movie we watched was the Purge. He kept handing me drinks. At one point, I had to use the restroom. Once when I was starting to walk out, I tripped in the doorway and fell down, hitting my jaw, my arm and knees. I slammed to the floor very hard, very intoxicated. I tried to stand up, but I could not fully pull my body up by myself, on my own. He came to help me up and helped me sit on the bed. I blacked out and fell asleep on the bed. When I woke up, the room was dark. The light was off. The TV was off. I looked down and my pants, my shoes, and my drawers were removed. I was fully dressed before I had blacked out. He took it upon himself to undress my lower body without my consent. I said multiple times I had no interest toward him as anything but friends, and I wanted no sexual involvement.

I was furious when I had gained full consciousness, that here I was half-naked, and a person I called my battle was touching my body with his genitals and had violated me, not only as another person, but as another soldier. His intentions were clear that he never respected me as a fellow soldier, a woman, and that he was a monster, and a disgusting excuse of a person.

I yelled at him, quickly put on my clothes, grabbed all of my belongings and ran into the road in front of the barracks. I requested an Uber to come pick me up. I waited for the driver to pick me up near the road. I was still partially intoxicated and furious. The driver talked to me to make sure that I was okay. He was a kind man who was very concerned. I was still in shock riding in the car, and I avoided some of his questions.

I'm not advocating that underage drinking is okay, because it is not. I admit I was wrong for drinking under the age of 21, but I still did not deserve, nor does anyone else, to be wrongfully touched without consent and violated.

There was an investigation; I went to the hospital and requested a "teal" kit, because I told a sergeant the investigation had to be unrestricted. I requested a base transfer from Fort Bliss to another installation. I became an expedited transfer. The base that accepted to take me was Fort Carson, Colorado Spring, Colorado.

Once I came forward, and my case became unrestricted, everything changed. The "friends" I had at Fort Bliss either didn't want to talk to me anymore or avoided me. I chose to finish the rest of my contract and see that {HE} was punished for the horrible act he committed. My case never made it to court martial. My then, fiancé, was angry and upset with me, blamed me for what happened, and our relationship ended. I trusted them, that {HE} would be charged, but he never was. That scumbag was allowed to still walk around in uniform and free to prey on other women.

I came to Fort Carson alone with a flag hanging over me in my file. That flag followed me everywhere, and I was always questioned about it. PCSing as a Private First Class catches everyone's attention and raises a lot of questions.

My new unit felt different; the environment was different and the people. Other soldiers asked me personal questions, asked me if I was the soldier who came there because of the sexual assault. Most were even hesitant to talk to me and at times I felt really isolated. It was hard to make friends at Fort Carson because of what happened, and the distrust I had that had grown inside of myself toward other soldiers. I always felt like I was being treated differently, like and outsider, even though I had come forward and told the truth to the police.

To be able to write all of this about myself surprises me. Group therapy, counseling, and continued counseling has helped me regain the confidence I needed to be able to talk about this. I do not hate the organization of the United States Army. I am disappointed in how everything was handled; that this case was not taken seriously and {HE} was not dealt with and received consequences he was supposed to. The case was closed and I was not properly notified nor told it was closed until long after.

What I am thankful for are the men and women who genuinely showed that they cared about my well being, who convinced me to come forward and report, the people who checked in with me to make sure I was okay. The ones who were never questioned me and believed that I was telling the truth, didn't victim blame me, and were patient with how long my healing process took.

I wanted to share my story to encourage anyone who is afraid to report the person who assaulted them, and is afraid of retaliation. Anyone who is afraid that other people with stop being friends with them, afraid of being called vulgar names, and shamed.

You are not alone. When you are ready to come forward, no one will ever take your voice away and others will hear you, and we see you.

I hope this helps any service man or woman who has had this experience or is experiencing this currently. Sexual Assault is wrong, and there is no excuse for it. Rape is wrong, harassment is wrong.

I still have distrust of others, but my family and my dog trained in personal protection, make me feel safe. I won't always drink at social gatherings and I watch who is making any drinks behind the bar. Carrying knives hidden on my body made me feel safer while I was in uniform, and unfortunately I have had to use them against another person. Being able to carry has made me feel some sense relief and safety. My senses have become more heightened and I am much more aware of my surroundings. I don't sleep the way I did before; I sleep very light. I do not hate the male gender of the population. I just have more distrust with males than I do with females. this I am still working through, and I recognize monsters come in all shapes and forms. One individual is to blame for the way I feel, not all males, and that should not be taken out on them.

Roxie Castillo


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