A local veteran who was raped by a fellow service member spoke with 10News on Tuesday about how she went to Washington, D.C. to push for tougher laws.
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Carla Butcher joined the Navy after Sept. 11.
"Just like every American, you feel compelled to want to do something," she said.
In September 2002, a week after she deployed to Malta and Spain on the USS Vella Gulf, she was raped by a fellow sailor.
"[It] caused me to have post-traumatic stress disorder... constant nightmares," she said. "He said, 'What are you going to do, tell?'"
She did, but after more than a year of battling him in court, he was found not guilty.
In a typical year, fewer than 8 percent of military rape cases go to trial and fewer than 2 percent result in a conviction.
"What does a woman have to do in order to get justice?" asked Butcher. "Does she have to get brutally beaten almost to the point of death for them to say, 'Oh, this is a guilty verdict?'"
Last week, Butcher and dozens of women like her took their fight to the nation's capital, while attending SWAN's 2012 summit on military sexual violence. Sen. John Kerry and other lawmakers spoke and the women received a chance to plead with legislators for change.
"To create a bill to stop rape, to prevent it, to hold these men accountable, to hold the military accountable," said Butcher.
In the meantime, Butcher a proud veteran credits her wife Stephanie, her service dog Marley and the VA for helping make life livable.
"We all know that I'm never going to be the same and I can live with that," she said.
Butcher's focus now is writing a memoir that details the accounts of numerous women who have been victims of military sexual violence, in hopes that stories similar to hers will help lead to an overhaul of the military justice system.
The Pentagon estimates 19,000 service members were raped or sexually assaulted by other service members last year and fewer than 17 percent of those cases were officially reported.
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