Archive for November 7th, 2007

Barracks D

My buddy Jay Herron caught a rude break 37 years ago this New Year’s. He was in the Navy. A blizzard caused him to be inadvertently AWOL. Jay was arrested — by his brother, who was MP on the ship, USS Vulcan, on which they were both stationed.

My friend was locked up in a place called Barracks D.

That’s where the rapes happened.

Occasionally I’ll feel the need to delve, in this blog, into my own past sexual traumas. These, and my life-long Post Traumatic Stress episode that has followed, are at the root of my direst difficulties. The last time I spelled out what happened to me in explicit terms was about a year ago. I did so because I’d begun to find it difficult to write. So that’s the story, right? So write about it.

By the time I was done with that blog post I realized: No one would have an easy time of it, producing heartfelt, even occasionally coherent, written material — typed near dawn into a lap top computer running on, and running out of, battery power with my butt perched on a sidewalk curb. That I have been able to write as much & as well as I have is an feat of human spirit. I am proud of myself.

I wrote the post for entirely personal reasons; to pay myself the respect I am due. I certainly felt vulnerable for having written it. I don’t know…it’s kind of like the way women are when they want to tell a guy about all their problems. You know? The way they don’t want us to “fix it.” They just want to tell us how they feel.

I disabled Reader Comments for that particular post. Because to my mind there wasn’t much about it for anyone to say. And if someone thought there was I probably didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to have to worry about what anyone might say. I just wanted to tell you guys how I feel.

Thanks for listening.

A couple days later I had a hunch that I should re enable reader comments. I don’t know why. Maybe because I felt a bit more confident. Or else because my instincts suggested that somewhere out there was a reader with just the right thing to say.

That’s when I met Jay Herron.

He found my blog through one of the tags I assigned to it; PTSD or perhaps childhood sexual trauma. And I’m powerfully glad he did. Because the lifelong effect of sexual trauma is plumb hard to wrap the brain around. Particularly you do not find many men who speak forthrightly of our plight.

So it helps immensely to know — thanks to the power of blogging — that out there somewhere is a man, a friend, who, from his own oft torturous experience, understands how I feel.

The other day I was visiting some friends who had recently married. They had requested I bring my portfolio of drawings as the wife is an artist too-they both were interested in seeing my work. As she was going through the drawings she came to one page that made her pause for a legnth of time and she looked up at me and said ” I know exactly what this is about”.The drawing she refered to was an image of me-my head only-standing in a room full of snakes and for heads each snake had a hand and in the fingers of each hand was a fang-a poisonous fang. Around the room you can see boxes with men laying in them and above the room you can see eyes peering over the ledge. One of the snakes is coiled around my neck. My friends new wife confided she to had been confined during a DUI arrest-and had been raped…but until then she knew nothing about what happened to me in barracks D.
>>Jay Herron

When Jay reported his rape he was laughed at and told to “Get used to it.”

Get Used To It.

Why was Jay told to do that? In part because rape was an occurrence my friend endured systematically during the two months he was held in Barracks D (a bogus marijuana rap, to which he was forced to confess, was added to his AWOL charge like an insult to his injury).

Why?

I wonder whether rape is as much a part of the military regiment as push ups. It could serve a purpose — where the raped & the rapist can be reliably anticipated to perform unique combat roles.

But that’s a Big Question; one I hope my buddy Jay will answer himself in the pages of a book.

He can talk about the time — that’d be today, Wednesday 11.07.07 — when he took the United States Navy to court. Just him, against the might of the United State’s military. To seek restorative justice — though my friend excusably doubts such a thing exists — for the atrocities inflicted on him in Barracks D.

For Jay victory — unlikely as it seems — is a simple apology. But the very act of walking into that courtroom today is a feat of human spirit; one I wish I was there to see.

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