McSally: 'I felt the system was raping me all over again'

Sen. Martha McSally says she was raped while serving in the military

Martha McSally, a decorated Air Force officer and the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, said she was raped by a senior officer while she was on active duty.

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 that in one case she was preyed upon and raped by a superior office and that the system in place "raped" her as well.

She testified that she blamed herself, adding, "I was ashamed and confused".

"Like many victims, I felt the system was raping me all over again". She said that's why the public must demand that higher-ranking officials be part of the solution. She retired from the Air Force as a full colonel. "But unlike so many courageous survivors, I didn't report the sexual assault".

She also said that she had lacked faith in the system.

In January, the Pentagon released its report on sexual assault in military service academies, finding a almost 50 percent spike in the prevalence of unwanted sexual contact at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.

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"I nearly separated from the Air Force at 18 years over my despair", she said.

"We've come a long way to stop military sexual assault but we have a long way to go", McSally said.

In a statement, McSally replied: "He is a troubled man who I have forgiven, and I hope he finds God's peace and grace". I chose to stay and continue to serve and fight and lead. McSally felt the need to come forward because she wanted to speak honestly with witnesses.

A spokeswoman for McSally said the senator would not be immediately commenting further about her experiences. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has pressed for years to remove the chain of command from the legal proceedings, replacing their oversight with legal officers.

McSally's colleagues praised her courage in recounting her story. Sen.

McSally was defeated by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the 2018 Senate election by 2 percentage points.

Instead, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to temporarily fill the seat vacated by the late Republican Sen.

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