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US senator says she was raped while in Air Force

/ 07:19 AM March 07, 2019
US senator says she was raped while in Air Force

Senator Martha McSally (left) speaks while Sen. Mike Rounds listens during a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing on prevention and response to sexual assaults in the military, on March 6, 2019, in Washington, DC. AFP

WASHINGTON, United States – Arizona Senator Martha McSally, the first woman to fly in combat for the US Air Force, said Wednesday that she had been raped by a superior officer while in the service.

McSally, 52, who spent 26 years in the Air Force and commanded a fighter squadron, revealed the attack in emotional remarks during a Senate subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military.

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“I am also a military sexual assault survivor but unlike so many brave survivors I didn’t report being sexually assaulted,” McSally said.

“Like so many women and men I didn’t trust the system at the time,” she said. “I blame myself. I was ashamed and confused. And I thought I was strong but felt powerless.

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“The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways,” the first-term Republican senator said. “And in one case I was preyed upon and then raped by a superior officer.”

McSally said she kept quiet about the assault for many years.

“But later in my career, as the military grappled with scandals and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know — I too was a survivor,” she said.

McSally said she considered leaving the military after the assault.

“I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years over my despair,” she said. “Like many victims I felt the system was raping me all over again.

“But I didn’t quit,” she said. “I decided to stay and continue to serve and fight and lead, to be a voice from within the ranks for women and then in the House and then in the Senate.”

McSally lost a close race in November to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema but was later appointed by the Arizona governor to fill the seat once held by John McCain, who died in August.

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She is expected to contend for the Senate again in 2020 and may face a potentially tough race against former astronaut and US Navy veteran Mark Kelly, who is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who is also a military veteran, revealed earlier this year that she had been raped while in college. /cbb

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TAGS: Arizona, Martha McSally, news, ‎Rape, Sexual abuse, US Air Force, US Congress
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