Hudson Valley Marine shares her story of rape, sexual harassment during her service

Mendez says she was sexually harassed, drugged and raped her first year of duty. When she reported it to her superiors, Mendez says she was victimized, publicly humiliated and punished.

News 12 Staff

May 27, 2020, 9:34 PM

Updated 1,463 days ago

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A Hudson Valley woman who says she survived sexual harassment and rape in the Marines is sharing her story to help others and advocate for changes in the military.
Janelle Mendez joined the Marines in 2007 when she was 17 years old with hopes of someday becoming a leader.
But those dreams came with obstacles shared by other women in the military that Mendez was too young to understand. She was one of the only female Marines out of thousands stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
"The harassment was so severe. It was a daily basis from the time I woke up," Mendez told News 12.
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Mendez says she was sexually harassed, drugged and raped her first year of duty. When she reported it to her superiors, Mendez says she was victimized, publicly humiliated and punished.
"Instead of them dealing with the situation, they started calling me names, saying I was a slut," she says. "They told me this is what I signed up for. This is the Marine Corps."
Mendez's story is all too common for women in the military. Last year, the Pentagon reported a rise in sexual assaults and harassment.
Twelve years later, Mendez, who was discharged from the Marines and living in Wappingers Falls, is now the founder of the Military Sexual Trauma Movement – an organization supporting survivors and pushing for a federal Victim's Bill of Rights.
While her career in the military may have been cut short, her dreams to become a leader have come true.
 
 


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