Sen. McSally, ex-Air Force pilot, says officer raped her

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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."

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Sen. Martha McSally through her political career
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Sen. Martha McSally through her political career
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 9: Martha McSally, Republican candidate running against Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona's 2nd Congressional district, participates in the 3rd Annual 'Stand Up for Education Celebrity Spelling Bee' in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 9: Martha McSally, Republican candidate running against Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona's 2nd Congressional district, participates in the 3rd Annual 'Stand Up for Education Celebrity Spelling Bee' in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 9: Martha McSally, Republican candidate running against Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona's 2nd Congressional district, speaks with supporters at a breakfast in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 9: Martha McSally, Republican candidate running against Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona's 2nd Congressional district, speaks with supporters at a breakfast in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 28: Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., participates in the House GOP leadership press conference after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 17: Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks to the media following the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 07: Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., center, hugs Terry Harmon, daughter of Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) Elaine Harmon, before a graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery, September 7, 2016. Citing space issues, WASPs were initially ineligible for inclusion at Arlington, but after a petition challenging the rule President Obama signed legislation that reversed it. Elaine Harmon passed away last year at age 95. Former WASP Shutsy Reynolds, 93, appears at left. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - (L-R) Lawmakers who have served in the military stand on the US Capitol steps, Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Thursday, July 7, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: House Homeland Security Committee's Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chair Martha McSally (R-AZ) conducts a hearing at the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee heard testimony about visa overstays and the federal government's progress in developing a biometric entrance and exit tracking system for people crossing international borders. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 3: Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., walks down the House steps after voting in the Capitol on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - MAY 22: Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ) throws out the first pitch ahead of a game between the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 13: Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Wednesday morning, June 13, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
TEMPE, AZ - AUGUST 28: U.S. Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) takes a photo with a supporter during her primary election night gathering at Culinary Drop Out at The Yard on August 28, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. U.S. Rep. Martha McSally won the Arizona GOP senate primary. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Senator Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, questions Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, not pictured, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday. Feb. 26, 2019. Powell said a healthy U.S. economy has faced some 'crosscurrents and conflicting signals' that officials in January decided warranted taking a patient approach to future interest-rate changes. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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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.

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