On Wednesday, March 6th, newly-elected Arizona senator Martha McSally revealed that she was raped by a superior officer while she was serving in the Air Force. The information came to light when she spoke at an Armed Services subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military. McSally reportedly got emotional during her testimony (and understandably so), noting that she didn’t report the assault at the time because she didn’t trust the system to defend or support her.
McSally also noted that she seriously considered leaving the military after the incident. The senator was the first American woman to fly in combat, and she rose to the rank of colonel before retiring from active service in 2010. An aid on her staff told CNN that she prepared for the hearing for several days beforehand because she felt it was extremely important to speak her truth on this issue.
McSally also made it clear that she believes a shift in internal military culture is needed—and that commanders who don’t intervene or support victims should be held accountable. “I don’t want commanders to be off the hook: I need them to be more responsible for solving this issue,” she said.
We commend Senator McSally for coming forward and sharing her story. We’re sure it wasn’t easy, but we’re also confident it will help bring about positive and necessary change for so many victims.