By U.S. ArmySeptember 28, 2017
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- Jeremiah (Jay) Arbogast spoke to 780th Military Intelligence Brigade Soldiers and Army Civilians about his personal experience as a sexual assault victim and his attempted suicide at the Fort Meade Post Theater, September 26.
Arbogast was a U.S. Marine when he was sexually assaulted by his male supervisor. He talked about the pain, stigma, and how he eventually overcame the tragedy through the unconditional love of his daughters and by speaking about his experiences with others.
After reporting the assault, Arbogast was ostracized by his fellow Marines. Even after the suspect's conviction, there were those who felt he had betrayed the Corps and the good name of a career non-commissioned officer.
"I didn't believe it until it happened to me," said Arbogast.
He asked the audience members who they tend to side with after a murder or burglary, and most indicated they sided against the suspect and felt compassion for the victim. "So why is it when a man or woman is sexually assaulted do we blame the victim?" asked Arbogast.
While Arbogast said he found his "purpose in life" by speaking about his experience with others -- the father of three teenage girls didn't get to this point of his life without multiple trials and tribulations, including insomnia, nightmares, drunkenness, and an attempted suicide in October 2009 that left him permanently disabled.
In order to make a point about not being a bystander and actively intervening, he recited the words to a Chris Janson song "Drunk Girl."
Take a drunk girl home
Let her sleep all alone
Leave her keys on the counter your number by her phone
Pick up her life she threw on the floor
Leave the hall lights on walk out and lock the door
That's how she knows the difference between a boy and man
Take a drunk girl home
"If you can't drag me out of a bad situation," said Arbogast. ""Then how can I trust you on the battlefield?"
Arbogast recommended the audience watch "Invisible War", a documentary film about sexual assault in the U.S. military and "The Hunting Ground", about college students who have been raped and face retaliation and harassment.
He also talked about how many people "suffer in silence". For everyone present, Arbogast's words were an inspiration and a reminder to be actively there for others.
Kimberly Henne, the brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), collaborated with Chaplain (Maj.) Greg McVey, the brigade chaplain, to have Arbogast speak to the brigade Soldiers and Civilians. She said Arbogast keeps in touch with her and has helped victims navigate through the SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) process.
"Next time we would like to make it an installation-wide event," said Henne "Everyone should hear his story. He is so passionate about prevention. He speaks directly from the heart."
The Department of Defense is highlighting Suicide Prevention in September. For more information on this program visit the Defense Suicide Prevention Office at http://www.dspo.mil/, or the DoD Deployment Health Clinical Center at https://www.pdhealth.mil/resource-center/national-suicide-prevention-awareness-month.