I'm A Veteran, A Rape Survivor, And I've Broken My Silence

 Dannielle Karise rocking her fro! Photo via her Instagram.

Dannielle Karise rocking her fro! Photo via her Instagram.

Hey errrbody!

We're back! And we see you're not sick of us yet. 

As ya'll know, sexual violence awareness is a high priority for us. We're excited to have Dannielle's words about Military PTSD (M-PTSD), a discussion not had often enough in the scope of mental disorders. The lack of dialogue around M-PTSD is mostly strange, considering PTSD as a diagnosis didn't exist before the Vietnam War.

After reading Dannielle's post about M-PTSD, check out this 2015 Vanity Fair article for more info on Military PTSD and psychological trauma. This link to the National Institute of Mental Health will give you more info on the broader scope of what PTSD is, how one develops the disorder, and treatment options.

There's an unsettling sensation that emerges when you feel stuck.

You find yourself checking the clock often to be certain time has passed because for you, every moment is the same. Every thought leads back to that one day when your life changed forever. You can’t seem to move past what happened to you and use it as a scapegoat for your current failed relationships, telling yourself 'they just don’t understand.'

The day my life changed forever was in July 2010. I choose not to pinpoint the date in fear of it becoming some type of designated anniversary of my trauma. Instead, I focus on how I will never allow something like that to ever happen to me again.

I am proud veteran of the United States NAVY. I am proud of my contribution to this country, and I'm proud of the training I completed while enlisted. I met some amazing people who I still keep in contact with today. I gathered priceless memories that I can one day share with my grandchildren.

 Dannielle Karise looking fearless while skydiving. Photo via her Instagram.

Dannielle Karise looking fearless while skydiving. Photo via her Instagram.

Yes, I am proud of my service and everything that I did, but what I’m not proud of is having discovered what the real NAVY was like.

I know the real NAVY--not the glorified, exciting armed forces that is commercialized for the purpose of recruitment. I experienced the gritty, grimy part that doesn’t get reported on social media. If it did, this country would no longer be the land where dreams come true, but the land where dreams are tortured, festered and murdered because of the hidden acts that take place behind the public eye.

The military is its own community. I always say whatever civilian job you want you can find in the NAVY. Whether it’s an administrative assistant ("yeoman"), a storekeeper/postal clerk ("logistic specialist"), or paralegal ("legalman"), you can find the equivalent civilian profession in the NAVY. Also, similar to the civilian world, you can find thieves, murders, addicts, degenerates and, especially, rapists.

That’s where my story begins.

I knew him from training. It was easy for us to become friends since we were both in biracial marriages and both had an unspoken desire for support while being stationed in the boondocks of South Carolina. I knew his wife and frequently went by their home for game night and other social gatherings.

However, our friendship changed the day he decided that, while we were both going through divorces, he would take what he wanted from me after I rejected his request for a relationship.

Honestly, I cannot say I didn’t suspect him incapable of doing such a thing as rape. But I can say I had no idea that he would drug and kidnap me for hours to finally get what he always wanted. That’s something I just didn’t see coming.

Sometimes, I attribute my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to explain my inability to trust and commit in relationships. Sometimes I think, 'how can you really ever trust someone, then conclude you can’t?' 

Sometimes, I’m grateful for the experience. It allowed me to refocus my life and work on my career. It encouraged me to finish my B.S degree in Psychology and soon, my master’s in Mental Health Counseling.

 Dannielle Karise selfie! Photo via her Instagram.

Dannielle Karise selfie! Photo via her Instagram.

Sometimes, I don’t even remember what happened and move on with life. I share my art with others and work with the broken hearts of the mentally ill, helping them mend their lives from the pieces of their pain. Nonetheless, I always remind myself that since then I am wiser and stronger, more passionate and vigilant, I will never allow rape to ever happen to me again.


Dannielle Karise is a West-Indian American poet originally from Brooklyn, NY. She served in the U.S. Navy and is currently pursuing studies in Mental Health Counseling. Receiving her inspiration from the people she encountered and the wonders of the world we live in, she began to write. Her poems reveal the intimacies of her struggle in life with love, depression, and faith. Her writings are dedicated to all those who suffer from mental illness though maintain their pursuit of happiness

Contact us here if you're itching to get involved with bklynprose! We're always seeking passionate writers and community members to join us.

If you forgot: we're creating space for marginalized communities to be straight-up about their mental health in order to spark broader conversations throughout the world. Events are our real-time medium, and the blog and Instagram are our online mediums.

Here's a link to one of our last posts, which was a poetry submission by Mariam Younan Zaky! She bravely wrote this piece for us, which details how language barriers negatively impact immigrant communities seeking mental health care assistance. 

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