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Heath Phillips on Rape Culture and Silence in the Military (PAMLA18)

September 15, 2019

All that kept going through my mind was—my
dad never told me about this. This is not initiation. This not what my dad told me the military
was supposed to be like. This is not what the military is supposed
to be like. And I reported it. I was called a liar. I was called a momma’s boy. I was told, I’m homesick. I need to stop saying these types of lies. You’re going to ruin people’s careers. Shut up. . . . I was still being called a liar. This doesn’t happen. Why’d you do that to yourself. That’s what I got. After that Friday night, I went from probably
130 pounds down to about 115. Because I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. There was no place to hide, and on the 49th
day, I went into the fantail, in one of those starch rooms back there, and I tried hanging
myself. A chief petty officer came and took me down,
and I’ll never forget—This guy smacked me in my face, and he’s like: ‘You need
to become a man! You need to stop letting these guys do this
to you. [Jason]: So he knew about the attacks? Heath: Yeah. Everyone knew. They were doing it right in between the bunks. These guys were raping me right in beween
the bunks. Nobody said anything. Nobody would defend me. Help me. Nothing. They did nothing. And when that guy smacked me, it was shocking
to me. I remember leaving, and I left the ship. I went AWOL. That was when I decided to go AWOL. Jason: Do you feel like the Navy punished
you for being raped? Heath: Wholeheartedly. Yeah. Not only was I punished there. When I came home I was punished again because
I couldn’t get help. That discharge that I had barred me from getting
mental health treatment. I was double-dipped. Not only did I have that punishment, I had
to go home and try to deal with it. Jason: You were talking about some alcoholism,
some addiction, some crime—how many years did that go on? Heath: Twenty years. 1989 to February 3, 2009. Jason: Why is that specific date important? Heath: February 3, 2009 is the last day I

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