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(1,975 posts)
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 08:15 PM Sep 2018

I was a witness to sexual harassment and did nothing. . .

Yes, it's a clickbaity title. While I was on active duty I witnessed it once and did nothing about it.

I was stationed in Kodiak, Ak and sitting next to who I would describe as "a friendly acquaintance", I knew her but we didn't hang out in the same crowd, I just knew her from work and we had a friendly relationship. So we were sitting down doing paperwork when a male coworker walked past us. You could tell he was in a really pissed off mood, and my female coworker who I was sitting next to said to him, "Is there anything I can do, to make you not so pissed off". He immediately replied, "Yeah, you can show me your tits".

I immediately looked to my female coworker to gauge her response. I didn't know what level of friendship that these two had. The military is obviously male-dominated as will its humor. When I looked at her, I could tell that they weren't that type of friends. In that amount of time, he had already walked off. I kinda looked at her and said, "What the fuck?", and that was the last of it...

Until 3 hours later and I was at home and received a call from my Senior Chief. He said to me as soon as I answered the phone, "Separation, ya got one chance, to be honest". I told him I immediately knew what he was talking about and would be glad to help out in any way that I could. So we went over the day's events, how the guy said what he said to her, and I looked at her for some sort of signal that they were on that type of level with each other, and that by the time I did realize they weren't, he had walked off.

I was told to report in immediately to his office. He then proceeded to give me the ass chewing of my lifetime. I knew what the guy had said was wrong, and I should have chased him down and chewed his ass out or at least report it to a supervisor. He also proceeded to tell me that I was just as liable for doing nothing as what the guy said. I told my Senior Chief that I was willing to help out in any way I could and that I did not have any doubt in my mind that I was going to be brought up on charges as well.

In the end, though, I was written up for it. Which I totally deserved. I was a witness for the Court Marshall of the male, it turns out that once she said something 2 other women in the shop spoke up as well.

It's not something that I'm proud of. I let a fellow sister in arms be treated like shit without correcting the problem, and for that, I could only atone to my fellow sister in arms, who immediately accepted my apology.

I guess my message is to the other men out there is. It can happen and happen fast, we can no longer be silent on the sidelines.

9 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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I was a witness to sexual harassment and did nothing. . . (Original Post) Separation Sep 2018 OP
Thank you for sharing your story. TygrBright Sep 2018 #1
Article 134 of the UCMJ sarisataka Sep 2018 #6
Absolutely! Separation Sep 2018 #8
Bystander training is so, so important. All someone has to say is "what the fuck, dude?" WhiskeyGrinder Sep 2018 #2
And sometimes it happens so fast Freddie Sep 2018 #3
How long ago was this incident? True Dough Sep 2018 #4
This was easily 10 years ago Separation Sep 2018 #7
You did do something mercuryblues Sep 2018 #5
Correct in a sense Separation Sep 2018 #9


(20,751 posts)
1. Thank you for sharing your story.
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 08:30 PM
Sep 2018

If you're human, you make mistakes.

The test is, do you learn from your mistakes?

Not being that familiar with either the rules of your service or the UCMJ, what was your obligation in that incident?

Were you really expected to chase down your skeevy colleague and dress him down? Was that related to your rank and the reporting structure you were subject to at the time?

In general, my awareness of how military units function is that individuals in service are not expected to mete out summary ass-chewings unless they are officers or noncoms dealing with subordinates reporting directly to them.

So I'm assuming it was your failure to report that you were being gigged on. And possibly your failure to ask your colleague who was the injured party, whether you could assist her, right there and then, in reporting the incident herself, as well?

Did you ever discuss the matter with her later? Or apologize, formally or informally?



(18,467 posts)
6. Article 134 of the UCMJ
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 09:29 PM
Sep 2018
Article 134. General article:
Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

—?10 U.S.C. § 934

Or to summarize- "We can charge you with anything not specifically mentioned in any other Article"

In this specific case it would be failure to report an action prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the unit. If the person involved is not of sufficient rank within the chain of command to immediately provide discipline they would be expected to report it up the chain of command.


(1,975 posts)
8. Absolutely!
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 11:11 PM
Sep 2018

Last edited Sun Sep 30, 2018, 12:32 AM - Edit history (1)

I was always under the assumption that if I didn't make any remark or unwanted advances that I would be ok. Here is the EEO on Sexual Harassment & Discrimination. I have bolded and underlined where I screwed up. I think the only thing that saved me is that the guy in question was a higher rank than me.... I certainly opened my eyes wider.

AFTER EDIT: Yes, I apologized to her and asked for her forgiveness, which she graciously gave. We remain friends to this day.

Our Core Values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty demand our commitment and
dedication to a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. Sustained mission
excellence requires it. Federal law and policy compel it. Our Duty to People is founded
upon it.

Unlawful discrimination, including harassment, is incompatible with our Service values.
We will respect those we serve and those who serve with us. We will cultivate and
sustain a work environment that is free from conduct that unreasonably interferes with
an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile work
environment based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including
gender identity, sexual harassment, pregnancy and sexual orientation), age, disability,
genetic information, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, engagement in a
protected Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) activity or any other basis protected by
the law. We will proactively address such conduct before it affects our people and our
mission performance. Each Coast Guard member will be familiar with our EEO policies
to prevent and eliminate all forms of discrimination and harassment.

The Coast Guard's Civil Rights Directorate website contains guidelines for appropriately
reporting and responding to incidents of unlawful discrimination and harassment:
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cgOO/cgOOh/. Coast Guard members who believe they have
been subjected to unlawful discrimination and/or harassment should report it as well as
any suspected retaliation or reprisal related to an EEO complaint. Reports shall be
made promptly through the supervisory chain of command, the local Civil Rights or
Human Resources Offices, or through other appropriate grievance procedures. All
complaints and reports alleging unlawful discrimination and/or harassment will be
processed promptly, thoroughly, impartially and through a process that protects privacy.
In cases where it is determined that discrimination has occurred, leaders and managers
will take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

At all times, we will provide an environment that promotes dignity, respect, fairness and
inclusion. These are essential elements to the sustainment of operational excellence, a
positive command climate and a healthy work environment. It is who we are.


(22,303 posts)
2. Bystander training is so, so important. All someone has to say is "what the fuck, dude?"
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 08:34 PM
Sep 2018

That gives room for everyone to give you more information on what their relationship is, for you to assess the situation, and for them to either escalate, mitigate or defuse.


(9,255 posts)
3. And sometimes it happens so fast
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 08:35 PM
Sep 2018

By the time you realize it, the person is gone. When I was in college, a well-regarded professor walked up behind me and fondled my breasts. It was fast and he disappeared. No witnesses. It was the 70s, didn’t even occur to me to report him. “Oh, he’s just handsy” “you were wearing a tight sweater, right?”

True Dough

(17,243 posts)
4. How long ago was this incident?
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 08:46 PM
Sep 2018

I'm glad to hear it was taken so seriously. The impression I often get is that misogynistic and sexist behavior in the military is rampant and often condoned.


(1,975 posts)
7. This was easily 10 years ago
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 11:05 PM
Sep 2018

The Senior Chief in question was very protective of the women in the unit. He had ZERO tolerance for anything that even resembled sexual harassment. It made a lasting impression on me.


(14,519 posts)
5. You did do something
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 09:14 PM
Sep 2018

You told the truth. Then you learned how to do better. You didn't laugh and join in. You didn't lie about it. You didn't excuse his behavior when asked.


(1,975 posts)
9. Correct in a sense
Sat Sep 29, 2018, 11:15 PM
Sep 2018

I failed to report it, and in doing so I let a sister in arms get sexually harassed without a challenge or reporting it. It was failed ignorance on my part. We all have to go to those awesome powerpoint presentations every 6 months, and we also have individual computer training that is annual.

Like I stated in my OP though, I did ask for forgiveness from her and was graciously given it. It was definitely a life lesson learned.

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