Navy veteran Timothy Jones brought his story of survival and resiliency to the Military District of Washington community April 13 during its annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program training session held at Conmy Hall on the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
Jones told the assembled Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Department of Defense civilians that he was stalked, raped and hazed while serving on active duty in 1999.
"I never thought I would be raped," he said. "I can still feel the sheer terror of that night."
Following the attack, Jones struggled with whether or not to report it to his command.
"All I could think about was my career," he said. "This was 1999 and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was in full effect."
Jones ultimately opted to report the assault because he feared his attacker would harm someone else. But word of what had happened to him spread around the base and Jones soon found himself victimized by the taunts and hazing of his fellow service members.
"I would walk into the chow hall and everyone would stop talking," he said. "The next 10 years were filled with drugs and alcohol because that was the only way I could cope with being raped."
In addition to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, Jones was also severely depressed, so much so that he considered suicide as a way to end his pain.
"I woke up and prayed to God and said 'God, take this away from me. I can't do this anymore. I need help,'" he said.
Jones entered support programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and participated in other veterans support groups as he began to emotionally heal from his ordeal.
"What I got was 'brother, we got you,'" he said of the support he received. "I had so many people who created a safe place for me. It took my mind away from it for a little bit."
And it was due to the support he received that Jones is now able to share his story with others and work to end and destigmatize sexual assault.
"This moment was not about me," he said. "This moment is for every single male victim who has come forward, every victim who has come forward," he said. "This moment was for my family."
Jones took questions from the audience following his 45-minute presentation.
"I want to thank you for being so open and honest," one active duty Soldier told Jones. "There's a lot of pressure specifically on male victims of assault."
Marcellus Anderson, SHARP program manager for MDW, said it is not uncommon for males to be the victim of sexual assault.
"One in eight males are sexual assault victims in their lifetime," he said. "About 12 percent of males who are victims in the Army report it."
To learn more about sexual assault and prevention in the Army, visit www.sexualassault.army.mil. To learn more about the Marine Corps' efforts, visit http://go.usa.gov/czzeT.