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I was raped by Air Force officer: US Senator

Agency | March 07, 2019 01:00 PM

WASHINGTON: A US senator has told colleagues that she "was preyed upon and raped by a superior officer" while in the Air Force.

Senator Martha McSally, who was the first female US fighter pilot to fly in combat, was speaking at a hearing on the sex assaults in the military.

The Arizona Republican said she did not report the rape as she felt ashamed and confused, and distrusted the system, the BBC reported.

Reports of sexual assaults across the US military jumped nearly 10 per cent in 2017.

"I stayed silent for many years. But later in my career, as the military grappled with the scandals, and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know, I too was a survivor," McSally told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday.

"I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled. I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair. Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again," McSally added.

Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York, the top ranking Democrat on the committee, said she was "deeply affected by that testimony".

McSally served 26 years in the US Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel, before retiring in 2010. She served two terms in the US House of Representatives before being elected to Senate last year.

It is not the first time McSally has spoken about being a survivor of sexual abuse. Last year, while running for the Senate, she told the Wall Street Journal her high school athletic coach had pressured her into having sex with him when she was 17.

She has previously said she was sexually harassed while in the military.

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