About one hundred women from around the country who were victims of military sexual assault were in San Diego this weekend to bring awareness to the issue.
» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter
Valori Slaughter traveled from Corpus Christi, Texas to San Diego to break her silence.
"My commander at the time, his exact words were, 'It's just a date rape. It was just a date rape,'" said Slaughter.
Slaughter was the victim of a sexual assault 13 years ago in which she got pregnant and had a son.
She remained in the Army, hoping to build a military career. Eleven years later, it happened again while she was deployed to Iraq.
"I turned it in to a squad leader and he didn't do anything about it," she said. "And in turn, he actually turned it around to actually make advances himself."
Slaughter added, "The person who assaulted me at the end of the deployment he told me that he did it because my chain of command wouldn't believe me."
She was right.
"You can't ever show a sign of weakness and to say something happened to you or you were put in a situation where you were victimized is like saying you were weak at some point," said Slaughter.
So, she kept it a secret until now. Slaughter and 100 women from around the country are gathering for the first time to bring the topic out of the shadows and hope for change.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said about 19,000 military sexual assaults occur each year.
A survivor and founder of the National Women Veterans Association of America, Tara Wise, organized the event.
"We want to make a historic paradigm shift in the way they deal with sexual assault in the military," she said.
More than 200,000 women currently serve in the U.S. military. Wise would like to see legislation passed to protect them and to help victims.
For now, she wants victims to know they have support.
"They need to come forward so they can start their healing process," said Wise.
That is something Slaughter is now doing. Though she was hurt, she said it also gave her the light of her life, her son.
"I love him
he's adorable," she said.
Copyright Do you have more information about this story? Click here to contact usCopyright 2012 by 10News.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.