A female Marine’s TikTok video has the attention of social media and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said the woman’s clip — in which she alleged that a male Marine was simply reassigned after an admitted violation against her — was “deeply disturbing.”
“We have to get the facts. We have to understand what just happened,” he added at a briefing at a Pentagon on Friday, Feb. 19, according to TIME. “I’m going to ask that her chain of command makes sure that someone is looking out after her needs and is making sure that we’re taking care of her.”
Trigger warning: Sexual abuse and self-harm.
The woman says her alleged abuser was promised an honorable discharge.
The female Marine revealed part of her story in a TikTok video on Thursday, Feb. 18. “So every once in a while, I come to terms with the fact that I’m leaving the military, that I dedicated to myself and my body and my child’s whole life to this organization and they just didn’t take care of me the way that they promised that they would,” she said.
“Like, I was able to see my perpetrator in a courtroom, and, like, he’s able to admit what he did. He’s able to admit what he did, and they say, ‘OK, well, you were really good at your job, and yeah, you did a bad thing, but we’re gonna make sure that you get out honorably, and you’ll be able to reenlist and do this s--t to somebody else in another branch, just not this one.’ And that shit breaks my f--king heart. Like, I’m so f--king tired.”
In another video, she said she heard that the man would be retained.
In another TikTok upload — which appears to have been deleted, but was shared on Twitter by the advocacy group Not in My Marine Corps — the woman sobbed as she gave followers an update.
“This morning, I posted a f--king TikTok about how f--king unfair it is that I’ve dedicated my life to the military and the Marine Corps and everything that I’ve done and that I was able to see my f--king perpetrator in court and how much it f--king sucked that he was being forced out of the military, that he would be getting an honorable discharge,” she said.
“Well, not even 10 minutes ago, I just got word that this motherf--ker will be getting retained because it went all the way up. Across the board, everybody said that they would not retain him. And the f--king head honcho, the f--king [commanding general], with all of the proof and a f--king admission to guilt, decided that they will retain him. And this is exactly why f--king females in the military f--king kill themselves. This is exactly why nobody f--king takes us seriously."
Her unit says the “administrative separation process” for the man is ongoing.
Captain Angelica Sposato, a spokesperson for the woman’s unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, released a statement about the situation on Twitter on Friday.
“The Marine Corps and the nation expect the highest standards of conduct from Marines and Sailors,” the statement read. “The current administrative separation process for the accused perpetrator mentioned in the video is ongoing. The Marine in the video is safe and has been afforded the opportunity to meet with senior representatives in her command.”
But Not in My Marine Corps — a group “dedicated to ending sexual harassment and assault in the Armed Forces” — is trying to bring the case to U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“This is what happens when you report your assault in the @USMC,” the organization tweeted on Thursday as it shared the woman’s second video. “He admits his guilt and then is retained by the Commanding General after everyone else recommended do not retain. @RepSpeier, @SenGillibrand, @KamalaHarris, [and] @SecDef, this is bulls--t. #metoomilitary #sexualassault.”
For her part, the woman is directing those with similar experiences to the forum at Not My Reality, and organization that “strives to create a safe haven for military affiliated survivors of sexual assault and harassment.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.