1. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Martha McSally, (R) Arizona:
"Like you, I am also a military sexual assault survivor. But unlike so many brave survivors, I didn't report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn't trust the system at the time. I blame myself. I was ashamed and confused, and I thought I was strong, but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways. And in one case I was preyed upon and then raped by a superior officer. I stayed silent for many years, but later in my career as a military grappled with scandals, and they're wholly inadequate responses. I felt the need to let some people know I too was a survivor. I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences were handled. I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years, over my despair. Like many victims I felt this system was raping me all over again. But it didn't quit. I decided to stay and continue to serve and fight and lead to be a voice from within the ranks for women. And then in the House and now in the Senate. So, this is personal for me too but it's personal from two perspectives: As a commander who led my airmen into combat, and as a survivor of rape and betrayal. I share the disgust of the failures of the military system and many commanders who failed in their responsibilities. But it's for this very reason that we must allow, we must demand that commanders stay at the center of the solution, and live up to the moral and legal responsibilities that come with being a commander."
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Martha McSally, (R) Arizona:
"We must educate, select, and then further educate commanders who want to do the right thing, but who are naive to the realities of sexual assault. We must ensure that all commanders are trained and empowered to take legal action, prosecute fairly, and rid perpetrators from our ranks. And if the commander is the problem, or fails in his or her duties, they must be removed and held harshly accountable."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Martha McSally, (R) Arizona:
"To that end, I very strongly believe that the commander must not be removed from the decision making responsibility of preventing detecting and prosecuting military sexual assault."
Sen. Martha McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, said Wednesday that she was raped in the Air Force by a superior officer.
The Arizona Republican, a 26-year military veteran, made the disclosure at a Senate hearing on the armed services' efforts to prevent sexual assaults and improve the response when they occur.
McSally said she did not report being sexually assaulted because she did not trust the system, and she said she was ashamed and confused. McSally did not name the officer who she says raped her.
"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," she said, choking up as she detailed what had happened to her. "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's revelation comes not long after Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, detailed her own abuse and assault, and at a time of increased awareness over the problem of harassment and assault in the armed forces.
Reports of sexual assaults across the military jumped nearly 10 percent in 2017 - a year that also saw an online nude-photo sharing scandal rock the Defense Department.
McSally said she shares in the disgust of the failures of the military system and many commanders who have failed to address the problems of sexual misconduct.
She said the public must demand that higher-ranking officials be part of the solution.