MetroFocus: January 3, 2023

“#IAmVanessaGuillen”:  SURVIVORS OF MILITARY SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND THEIR FIGHT TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM

In April 2020, U.S. Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén was murdered after reporting her assault that took place at Fort Hood in Texas.  In late November 2022, Cecily Aguilar, the only person charged in connection with Vanessa’s murder, pled guilty to four counts, including accessory to murder after the fact, and now faces up to 30 years in prison.  While this decision is a victory for Vanessa’s family, the problem of sexual harassment and assault, as well as retaliation for those reporting these crimes, remains a major issue in our armed forces.  A documentary, available to stream on Univision.com called #IamVanessaGuillen, covers the issue of sexual violence in our military and tells Vanessa’s story, including how her situation inspired countless others to share their own stories of abuse and push for change in the military.  Joining us to discuss the film are producer and director Andrea Patiño Contreras; and Karina López, a military sexual assault survivor.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, A MAJOR UPDATE ON THE MURDER OF VANESSA GUILLEN, THE ARMY SOLDIER WHOSE DEATH INSPIRED THOUSANDS TO SHARE THEIR STORY OF THE SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE MILITARY.

WE REVISIT, THE CASE, THE DOCUMENTARY TELLING THE STORY.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO WE BROUGHT TO YOU POWERFUL STORY OF VANESSA GUILLEN, THE U.S. ARMY SOLDIER MURDERED AFTER REPORTING THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT SHE ENDURED AT FT. HOOD IN TEXAS.

HER DEATH INSPIRED COUNTLESS OTHERS TO SHARE THEIR STORY OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND PUSH FOR CHANGE IN THE MILITARY.

PROSECUTORS SAY GUILLEN'S KILLER TOOK HIS OWN LIFE BEFORE HE COULD BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE.

ONLY ONE PERSON, THE KILLER'S GIRLFRIEND, WAS CHARGED WITH A CRIME IN THIS CASE E CECILY AGUILAR.

SHE ADMITTED TO HELPING DISPOSE OF GUILLEN'S BODY.

SHE FACES UP TO 30 YEARS IN PRISON.

WHILE THIS IS A VICTORY FOR VANESSA'S FAMILY, THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT AS WELL AS RETALIATION FOR THOSE REPORTING THESE CRIMES REMAINS A MAJOR PROBLEM AND ISSUE IN OUR ARMED FORCES.

THE DOCUMENTARY ' #I AM VANESSA GUILLEN' EXAMINES THESE ISSUES AND IS STREAMING ON UNIVISION.COM.

HERE'S A QUICK LOOK FOLLOWED BY MY INTERVIEW WITH THE FILM'S DIRECTOR AND ONE THOSE IN THE FILM.

IT WAS A VERY NERVOUS VOICE.

SHE SAID SOMETHING HAPPENED AND NO ONE WAS BELIEVING HER.

SHE DID NOT KNOW, AND SHE WAS CON CON CON CONTEMPLATING HURTING HERSELF.

I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO FEEL SAFE.

I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING.

A PART OF ME DIED BECAUSE SOMEBODY DECIDED TO DO THIS TO ME, AND NOBODY WANTED TO LISTEN.

I REPORTED IT AND I FOUGHT AND I'VE GONE THROUGH THE TRAUMA AND THE RETALIATION THAT I FACED AND NOW YOU HAVE A MISSING SOLDIER THAT WAS HARASSED.

I WROTE MY STORY AND PUT MY PICTURE BESIDES VANESSA BECAUSE I WAS VANESSA.

I AM VANESSA.

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN IS A HASHTAG GOING VIRAL HIGHLIGHTING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASMENT WITHIN THE MILITARY.

AT FT. HOOD, A SOLDIER GONE MISSING.

THEY CREATED AN ENVIRONMENT THAT CONTRIBUTED TO SEXUAL ASSAULT, EVEN MURDER.

THE ENVIRONMENT AT FT. HOOD WAS PERMISSIVE.

WE'RE JUST LIKE ANY ORGANIZATION.

WE'RE ALL ABOUT MAKING OURSELF BETTER.

BECAUSE THE MESSAGE AND CULTURE IN THE MILITARY HAS BEEN CLEAR -- SHUT UP, SUCK IT UP, AND DON'T ROCK THE BOAT.

IN THE CIVILIAN WORLD, PROSECUTORS MAKE THE DECISION TO PROSECUTE, AND THE MILITARY NONLAWYER COMMANDERS MAKE THAT DECISION.

90% OF SEX OFFENDER IN THE MILITARY WILL NEVER BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

AFTER 246 YEART TIME FOR CONGRESS TO GIVE THE MEN AND WOMEN SERVING OUR NATION A JUSTICE SYSTEM WORTHY OF SACRIFICES.

YOU MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, YOU NEED TO PASS THIS LEGISLATION.

JUSTICE!

WHEN DO WE WANT IT?

NOW!

I REALLY FEEL LIKE WE'RE ON THE VERGE OF SUCCESS.

WE'RE GOING TO REFORM THIS SYSTEM AND WE'RE GOING TO GET TO A BETTER PLACE.

THE WOMEN VETERANS YOU ENCOUNTER HAVE THE ABILITY TO ADAPT AND OVERCOME BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT.

BUT HERE'S THE THING -- YOU'VE CREATED A WOMAN WHO IS UNSTOPPABLE.

JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS THIS POWERFUL NEW DOCUMENTARY IS THE FILM'S DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER, ANDREA CONTRAERAS, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE KARINA LOPEZ, A SURVEVETERAN AND SURVI THE SEXUAL ASSAULT.

SHE'S THE CREATOR OF THE VIRAL HASHTAG #I AM VANESSA GUILLEN, WHICH INSPIRED THE FILM'S TITLE.

LADIES, THANK YOU TO P 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

ABSOLUTELY.

I WANT TO START BY ASKING ANDREA, YOU, THE QUESTION I ASK ALL DIRECTORS, AND THAT WAS WHAT MOTIVATED TO YOU CREATE THIS DOCUMENTARY.

WHAT WAS, YOU FELT, THE NARRATIVE THAT WAS NOT ALREADY OUT THERE?

SO, DURING 2020, OUR TEAM AT UNIVISION HAD BEEN COVERING THE DISAPPEARANCE AND MURDER OF VANESSA GUILLEN, WHO WENT MISSING AT THE FT. HOOD BASE IN APRIL OF 2020, AND LATER HER BODY WAS FOUND.

DURING THAT REPORTING, THE FALLING ONES, WE HEARD FROM A COUPLE OF CASES, KARINA INCLUDED.

SHE REACHED OUT TO US TELLING US HER STORY, AND AT THAT POINT IN THE FALL OF 2020, WE HEARD FROM HER, AND IN DECEMBER OF 2020, I DECIDED TO FLY DOWN TO MEET HER.

AND ONCE WE MET, I KNEW RIGHT AWAY THAT WE -- THERE WAS A REALLY IMPORTANT STORY TO BE TOLD.

I WAS VERY STRUCK BY KARINA'S -- I TELL HER THIS ALL THE TIME -- BY HER INCREDIBLE ABILITY TO ARTICULATE HER FEELINGS AND REALLY EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT THAT WAS THROUGH AND KIND OF VERY COMPLEX -- YOU KNOW, IT'S A VERY TRAGIC SITUATION, BUT ALSO HAS REALLY DEEP AND GRAVE CONSEQUENCES FOR MENTAL HEALTH, YOU KNOW, AND KARINA, THE WAY SHE ARTICULATED THAT TO ME STRUCK ME.

SO I CAME BACK FROM THAT TRIP AND KNEW THERE WAS A REALLY IMPORTANT STORY TO TELL, NOT JUST ABOUT SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND THE LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY, BUT ALSO THE HUGE IMPACT AND LACK OF JUSTICE HAS ON SURVIVES.

THAT'S WHY I WANTED TO TELL THIS STORY.

FRONT AND SENTER THE STORY OF SUR SURVIVES.

KARINA IS THE MAIN BUT THERE'S ALSO OTHERS.

AND ALSO TELL THE STORY OF THE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT TOOK PLACE BECAUSE OF VANESSA'S CASE.

IN PART BECAUSE OF KARINA'S HASHTAG, MANY CAME FORWARD.

MANY CHANGES TOOK PLACE.

THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO DO, BUT SOME THINGS HAPPENED THAT WERE PRISS UNPRECEDENTED.

KARINA, I WANT TO BRING YOU IN AND GET YOUR TAKE ON WHAT WAS ABOUT ABOUT VANESSA'S STORY THAT RESONATED AND MADE IT CLEAR NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK UP?

I THINK WHEN I ORIGINALLY HEARD ABOUT HER CASE ALL I HAD KNOWN IS SHE WAS MISSING AND THE DAYS KEPT GOING WHERE YOU WOULD SEE HER FACE AND YOU WOULDN'T -- THERE WASN'T REALLY AN EXPLANATION AS TO WHY SHE WAS MISSING.

WHEN I TWRAEACTUALLY LOOKED UP STORY, SO MANY THINGS DIDN'T MAKE SENSE.

I WAS LIKE, THERE HAS TO BE MORE COVERAGE.

A COUPLE DAYS INTO IT I REALIZED I DIDN'T LOOK AT THE SPANISH SECTION OF THE NEWS AND MAYBE I'LL FIND SOMETHING THERE, AND THAT'S WHEN I -- WHEN I HEARD HER MOM SAY THAT SHE WAS SEXUALLY HARASSED AND NOW SHE'S MISSING AND SHE WANTS ANSWERS.

AND TO ME IT FELT LIKE A TON OF BRICKS JUST FELL ON TOP OF ME BECAUSE THIS WASN'T BEING SAID, YOU KNOW, IN THE ENGLISH MEDIA.

AND IT JUST MADE ME SO ANGRY.

I REMEMBER JUST SO MANY EMOTIONS, AND I STARTED, YOU KNOW, LOOKING AT EVERYBODY.

I STARTED TRYING TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE THAT COULD LISTEN AND COULD UNDERSTAND THAT THIS -- YOU KNOW, WHAT HAPPENED TO HER WAS NOT AN INDIVIDUAL THING.

IT HAPPENED ALL OF THE TIME AND, YOU KNOW, MORE SPECIFICALLY, MY CASE AND HOW I HAD JUST LEFT AND I WAS FORCED OUT OF MY CAREER BECAUSE I WAS SPEAKING UP ON THIS, AND IT HAD GONE SO BAD AND CHAOTIC THAT, YOU KNOW, CONGRESS HAD TO GET INVOLVED IN MY CASE.

SO IT WAS ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT, YOU KNOW, I WAS ANGRY, I WAS SENDING, YOU KNOW, THE FAMILY -- MORE SPECIFICALLY THE SISTERS, YOU KNOW, MY STORE, AND IT JUST, YOU KNOW, WASN'T REACHING THEM, WHICH I UNDERSTAND, YOU KNOW, WHY.

THERE WAS PROBABLY SO MANY MESSAGES COMING IN THERE IN BOXES AND TO THEM.

AND YOU KNOW, I -- I WAS LIKE, OKAY, I'M GOING TO PUT IT ON FACEBOOK, AND I'M GOING TO COME FORWARD AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT'S OUT THERE.

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE THIS ISN'T -- YOU KNOW, MANY PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND -- ESPECIALLY CIVILIANS DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU CAN'T COME FORWARD, AND YOU THINK THAT WHEN SOMETHING TRAUMATIC HAPPENS LIKE THAT THAT YOU'RE SAFE IF YOU GO TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

HOWEVER, THAT'S REALLY NOT THE CASE.

YOU CAN HAVE ALL THE RIGHT PEOPLE, AND THOSE RIGHT PEOPLE, THOSE DOORS ARE SHUT ON THEM TO PROTECT YOU.

AND THE RETALIATION THAT COMES IS -- IS -- IS HORRIFYING SO, YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST STAY QUIET AND JUST ENDURE EVERYTHING IN SILENCE.

YOU KNOW, IT'S -- IT'S A VERY SCARY THING TO GO THROUGH, AND I THINK PEOPLE NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND THAT AND SEE THAT MORE SPECIFICALLY THROUGH MY STORY, BECAUSE I CAME FORWARD AND I HAD MOMENTS WHERE, SHOULD I HAVE COME FORWARD?

MAYBE I WOULD STILL HAVE MY CAREER IF I DIDN'T, AND I WOULD JUST GET MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES BEHIND THE SCENES, BEHIND, YOU KNOW -- BEHIND EVERYONE'S BACK AND JUST TOOK CARE OF IT THAT WAY.

YOU KNOW, WHO KNOWS?

ANDREA, I WANT TO GO BACK TO YOU, BECAUSE WE DID SHOW OF COURSE A CLIP FROM THE FILM, AND WE ALWAYS DEFINITELY WANT PEOPLE TO WATCH THE FULL DOCUMENTARY, BUT CAN YOU TELL US, JUST FILL IN FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT BE AWARE OF VANESSA'S STORY, WHO WAS SHE, AND WHAT DO WE NOW KNOW HAPPENED TO HER?

YEAH, SO VANESSA WAS A LATINA SOLDIER.

SHE WAS STATIONED AT FT. HOOD IN TEXAS.

SHE STARTED, AND SHE WAS VERY EXCITED TO JOIN THE MILITARY.

HER FAMILY SAYS SHE WAS JUST VERY PROUD TO SERVE.

HER FAMILY IS AN IMMIGRANT FAMILY.

THEY'RE MEXICANS, OF MEXICAN DES DESCENT, AND I THINK SHE SAW THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE HER COUNTRY AND WAS JUST VERY PROUD.

AT SOME POINT, VANESSA CAME HOME AND HER MOM NOTICED SHE WAS A LITTLE OFF, WASN'T SLEEPING, JUST SEEMED REALLY OFF TO HER, AND WHEN SHE ASKED HER WHAT WAS HAPPENING, VANESSA WOULDN'T TELL HER.

EVENTUALLY SHE TOLD HER SHE WAS BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED BY A SARGENT, BUT SHE DIDN'T WANT TO REPORT IT BECAUSE SHE WAS AFRAID OF RETALIATION.

FAST FORWARD A FEW MONTHS, AND VANESSA GOES MISSING IN APRIL OF 2020.

INITIALLY -- YOU KNOW, THE FAMILY KNEW RIGHT AWAY THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT, BECAUSE THEY WERE A VERY TIGHT KNIT FAMILY AND NOT HEARING FROM VANESSA WAS JUST REALLY OFF TO THEM.

THEY WENT TO THE BASE.

THEY WERE NOT GETTING A LOT OF ANSWERS.

THEY WERE, YOU KNOW, KIND OF KEPT -- PUSHED AWAY IN SOME WAYS.

BUT THEY WERE VERY, VERY PERSISTENT.

THEY WERE JUST DEMANDING ANSWERS.

AND EVENTUALLY, HER BODY WAS FOUND, AND WE KNOW THAT SHE WAS MURDERED BY SOMEONE IN HER UNIT.

WE KNOW THAT HE WASN'T THE PERSON THAT WAS HARASSING HER NECESSARILY, BUT THERE'S STILL A LOT OF ANSWERS THAT NEED TO BE -- TO BE CLEARED OUT, AND THE FAMILY'S STILL WAITING FOR A LOT OF ANSWERS.

AND THROUGHOUT THAT SEARCH, YOU KNOW, WITH KARINA'S HASHTAG WHEN VANESSA WAS STILL MISSING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CAME FORWARD WITH THEIR OWN STORY OF HARASMENT AS WELL.

KARINA, I WANT TO GO BACK AND GET YOU TO EXPLAIN A LITTLE BIT FOR SO MANY OF US WHO ARE CIVILIAN, WHAT IS THAT MILITARY CULTURE LIKE THAT PUSHES, MAYBE COERCES, MAYBE EVEN DEMANDS THAT WOMEN WHO ARE SERVING REMAIN QUIET ON AN ISSUE LIKE THIS?

THAT'S THE QUESTION I GET FROM A LOT OF PEOPLE, AND I THINK -- I DON'T THINK THAT THERE'S A REALLY GOOD ANSWER TO IT.

I THINK, FOR EXAMPLE, BEFORE I JOINED MY FAMILY SAT DOWN AND TALKED TO ME ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A WOMAN AND WORK IN A MALE FILLED INDUSTRY, AND THEN ME AS A MINORITY AS A WOMAN, ESPECIALLY BEING 19 YEARS OLD, BECAUSE I WAS 19 AT THE TIME.

AND THEY WENT THROUGH, YOU KNOW, DIFFERENT THINGS THAT COULD BE ISSUES.

YOU KNOW, THEY TOLD ME THAT I WAS VERY NAIVE, I WAS VERY YOUNG, AND YOU KNOW, THEY WANTED TO MAKE SURE I WAS SET UP FOR SUCCESS WITH KNOWING THINGS LIKE THIS.

I REMEMBER MY FAMILY SHOWED ME THE LIVEINA JOHNSON CASE AND I REMEMBER THINKING, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE STILL FIGHTING FOR THIS.

BUT THAT WAS THE ONLY CASE I REMEMBERED.

BUT THE STATISTICS OF THAT HAPPENING TO ME WERE PRETTY LOW.

HER FAMILY IS STILL FIGHTING FOR ANSWERS.

THEY'RE GOING TO GET THOSE ANSWERS.

I WAS VERY I WAS VERY NAIVE, VERY -- I HAD A LOT OF TRUST IN THE SYSTEM.

I WAS LIKE, I'M GOING TO DO THIS.

I'M GOING THE GO SERVE MY COUNTRY.

I'M SUPEREXCITED ABOUT IT.

THERE'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES.

I'M NERVOUS.

AND YOU KNOW, I REMEMBER BEING IN BASE, GOING THROUGH I.T., GOING THROUGH THE MILITARY PROCESS.

I REMEMBER JUST HOW MANY FEMALES PULLED ME ASIDE AND GAVE ME ADVICE OR TOLD ME TO STAY AWAY FROM A SPECIFIC PERSON OR, YOU KNOW, JUST SOMETHING THAT KIND OF -- THEY WERE DOING THE BEST THEY COULD TO GIVE ME ADVICE, BUT, YOU KNOW, TO A 19-YEAR-OLD, A 20-YEAR-OLD, YOU'RE JUST LIKE, THAT'S SO WEIRD THAT THAT PERSON HAD TO COME AND TELL ME AND GIVE ME THAT ADVICE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I REMEMBER HAVING THIS REALLY, YOU KNOW, BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED IN ONE SPECIFIC INCIDENT IN KOREA, AND I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

I FELT LIKE I WAS, YOU KNOW, SUFFOCATING AND I WAS BLOCKED INTO A KITCHEN.

AND I REMEMBER GOING TO AN NCO, A FEMALE NCO AND I TOLD HER HOW I FELT BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT I WAS FEELING.

AND SHE TOLD ME -- SHE GAVE ME ADVICE AND SHE WAS LIKE, YOU KNOW -- SHE WAS BACKING ME UP THE FULL TIME AND TOLD ME HOW TO HANDLE SITUATIONS LIKE THAT, AND SHE MADE ME CONFRONT HIM AND TELL HIM THAT WAS UNACCEPTABLE AND JUST STAND UP FOR MYSELF.

SO WHEN THIS HAPPENED ON FT.

HOOD AND I THOUGHT THAT I COULD DO EXACTLY THAT, THAT I WAS SHOWN HOW TO DO IT AND I WOULD GET HELP IN MY SITUATION, AND I WAS INSTEAD REDIRECTED AND GUIDED TO NOT GET THAT HELP AND INSTEAD TO JUST STAY QUIET ABOUT THAT BECAUSE THE BASE DIDN'T -- THE UNIT DIDN'T NEED EYES ON -- OR EXTRA ATTENTION ON THE UNIT.

I KIND OF FELT ASHAMED.

I FELT LIKE I COULDN'T STAND UP FOR MYSELF.

I HAD ALWAYS BEEN THAT 19-YEAR-OLD THAT WAS LIKE, IF THIS EVER HAPPENS I'M GOING TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF, I'M GOING TO FIGHT BACK.

NO ONE'S GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.

THAT STARTED THAT INNER WAR WITH MYSELF WHERE I DIDN'T -- I FAILED MYSELF, BECAUSE HERE I WAS, YOU KNOW, LETTING THEM WIN AND INTIMIDATE ME AND KEEP ME SILENT, AND I FELT UNSAFE, AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO -- MY FAMILY MEMBERS WERE THE ONES WHO TOLD ME ALL OF THIS, SO THEN I FELT COMPLETELY SHATTERED, BECAUSE THAT 19-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO WAS TELLING THEM, I WILL STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR MYSELF AND I'LL DO WHAT'S RIGHT, AND, YOU KNOW, THEY'LL HAVE TO HELP ME.

NOW IT'S THE OPPOSITE.

SO WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS LIKE THAT, YOU GET -- IT'S THE SUBJECT THAT'S EXTREMELY HEAVY.

SO EVEN IF YOU DO TELL THE RIGHT PEOPLE, THEY DON'T KNOW REALLY HOW TO APPROACH THE SITUATION AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT IF YOU GO TO THE WRONG PEOPLE, THE WRONG PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO YOU ACKNOWLEDGE IT AT ALL.

IT'S YOUR FAULT AND THAT'S IT.

EVEN WHEN I STARTED RECEIVING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, I HAD BEEN TOLD IT WAS MY FAULT.

YOU START REALLY BATTLING YOURSELF, AND I THINK ULTIMATELY THAT'S HOW THEY KIND OF WIN, BECAUSE THEY TARGET -- THEY MAKE YOU QUESTION YOURSELF.

YOU'RE NOT QUESTIONING THEM.

IF YOU'RE QUESTIONING THEM YOU'RE LIKE, NO, I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME, AND THAT'S WRONG.

BUT ONCE YOU HEAR IT ENOUGH AND YOU'RE IN THAT FRAGILE STATE OF MAYBE THIS WASN'T -- YOU KNOW, MAYBE THIS WASN'T THEIR FAULT.

MAYBE THIS WAS MY FAULT.

WHAT DID I DO WRONG?

YOU'RE RETRACKING AND GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS OF, OKAY, IT HAPPENED HERE, BUT WHAT DID I DO THAT LED ME TO BE PUT INTO THE SITUATION?

WELL, IT'S SOUNDING A LITTLE BIT LIKE PERHAPS ISSUES OF HIERARCHY AND CHAIN OF COMMAND ARE ALSO COMING INTO PLAY WITH YOU AS A 19-YEAR-OLD RECRUIT.

FOR THE NONSERVING CIVILIAN AUDIENCE, JUST VERY QUICKLY CAN YOU JUST LET EVERYBODY KNOW, SO THEY FULLY UNDERSTAND, WHAT EXACT LY IS AN NCO?

THE NCO IS BASICALLY THE -- THEY'RE KNOWN AS THE BACKBONE OF THE ARMY, OR THE MILITARY IN GENERAL.

THEY HAVE SERVED FOR SOME TIME.

THEY'VE GONE THROUGH THE BASIC LEADERSHIP SCHOOLS, AND THEY HAVE THAT RANK.

SO THEY'RE THE ONES THAT ARE PUT IN CHARGE OF THE LOWER ENLISTED SOLDIERS SOME BASICALLY THEY ARE A FORM OF LEADERSHIP.

THEY ARE SOMEONE YOU REPORT TO AND HELP YOU --

OKAY, AND DOES THAT STAND FOR SOMETHING?

I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE ARE LIKE, OH, THAT'S WHAT NCO IS.

YES, NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER.

MY SECOND QUESTION IS ALSO -- YOU DO KEEP GOING BACK TO YOUR AGE, AND ONE THING I THINK EVERYONE CAN RELATE TO IS BEING A 19-YEAR-OLD AND THINK YOU UNDERSTAND BUT NOT FULLY UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD YOU'RE STEPPING INTO.

HOW LONG AFTER YOU GOT TO FT.

HOOD DID YOUR ASSAULT HAPPEN?

AND I KNOW THAT YOU SORT OF TOUCHED ON IT, BUT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN SHARE, CAN YOU SHARE WITH US WHAT HAPPENED?

YES.

SO I JOINED WHEN I WAS 19, JUST TO CLARIFY, AND I HAD SEEN, YOU KNOW, JUST THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT FROM 19, 20, YOU KNOW, THOSE AGES.

WHEN I WENT TO FT. HOOD I WAS 21 ALREADY, AND I HAD ARRIVED LATE JULY.

SO I WENT THROUGH THE PROCESS OF -- THEY CALL IT -- IT'S BASICALLY FOR CIVILIAN TERMS ONBOARDING WHEN YOU FIRST GET THERE, THEY HAVE TO IN-PROCESS YOU.

AND I REMEMBER SENDING MY MOM A TEXT MESSAGE, RIGHT, THAT FIRST DAY, AND I REMEMBER TELLING HER I FELT LIKE A PIECE OF MEAT.

I REMEMBER TEXTING HER AND TELLING HER I WAS CRYING, BECAUSE SHE WAS LIKE, MAYBE YOU'RE GOING TO LOVE IT.

I WAS LIKE, I DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO TEXAS, BUT WHATEVER.

I'M SO FAR AWAY FROM HOME.

I WANTED TO GO TO FT. BRAGG AND BE CLOSER TO MY FAMILY AFTER BEING AWAY FROM THEM FOR A YEAR.

I'M YOUNG.

I WANT TO BE CLOSE TO MY FAMILY.

THAT FIRST DAY WAS FRUSTRATING FOR ME.

I FELT LIKE EVERY TIME I ASKED A QUESTION THEY WERE SETTING ME UP FOR FAILURE.

THEY THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY FUNNY THAT I WAS ASKING THESE QUESTIQUE QUESTIONS SO I WOULDN'T BREAK ANY RULES BECAUSE THEY WERE GIVING ME THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE ANSWER.

IT WAS LIKE YOU WERE BACKED AGAINST A WALL AND I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO BELIEVE OR DIDN'T.

THAT WAS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING.

ON TOP OF THAT IT WAS THE COMMENTS AND THINGS LIKE THAT THEY WOULD MAKE.

THAT WAS BEFORE I GOT TO MY UNIT.

I WAS SEXUAL ASSAULTED IN SEPTEMBER, SO I HAD BEEN THERE TECHNICALLY ONE FULL MONTH AND A COUPLE WEEKS.

BUT ALSO WITH THAT, TOO, YOU KNOW, ONE THING I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE IS, WE GROW UP WITH OUR PARENTS TELLING US DON'T TALK TO SPRAI STRANGERS, DON'T GET IN THE CAR WITH STRANGERS, BUT IN THE MILITARY, YOU DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD, SO THERE WERE A LOT OF TIMES THAT I WAS IN A CAR WITH A STRANGER, BECAUSE I -- YOU KNOW, SOMEBODY WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO PICK ME UP DIDN'T SHOW UP, SO THEY SENT SOMEONE ELSE.

SO TECHNICALLY I'M GETTING IN THIS CAR ON A BASE WHERE I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE ANYTHING IS OR WHO ANYONE IS AND THEY'RE DRIVING ME AND IT'S LIKE, OH, I NEVER MET THIS PERSON IN MY LIFE.

SO IT KIND OF GOES INTO THAT KIND OF SITUATION WHERE IT'S LIKE, WE'RE TOLD OUR WHOLE ENTIRE LIVES NOT TO GET INTO CARS WITH STRANGERS AND THINGS LIKE THAT, BUT THEN THAT'S WHAT WE DO IN THE MILITARY.

AND BEING THAT YOUNG AND STILL, YOU KNOW, DOING WHAT YOU'RE TOLD, YOU THINK THAT WHAT YOU'RE BEING TOLD IS LAW AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT.

SO THERE'S A LOT OF INTIMIDATION THAT COMES INTO WHEN YOU'RE TELLING YOUNGER SOLDIERS, HEY, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS OR YOU HAVE TO BE HERE AND IN A LOT OF CASES AND A LOT OF STORIES, THAT, ESPECIALLY FROM THE SURVIVES THAT CAME FORWARD WITH THE HASHTAG, THEY'LL TELL YOU, I WAS DOING WHAT THEY TOLD ME TO DO BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT'S WHAT WAS EXPECTED FROM ME.

THERE'S A LOT THAT GOES INTO BEING YOUNG.

I HAVE HAD SURVIVES TELL ME THAT THEY WERE 25, 26 EVEN, AND STILL, IT'S THAT -- IT'S JUST WHEN YOU COME INTO THE MILITARY, EVERYTHING IS COMPLETELY BRAND NEW BECAUSE IT'S NOT THE CIVILIAN WORLD.

IT IS ABOUT AGING BUT IT'S THAT INTIMIDATION FACTOR WHERE YOU HAVE SOMEBODY SUPERIOR TO YOU OR TELLING YOU OR GIVING YOU AN ORDER THAT IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW THAT ORDER YOU COULD GET IN TROUBLE.

IT'S ALSO, I DON'T WANT TO MAKE THIS PERSON UPSET, BECAUSE THIS PERSON LEGIT HOLDS ALL OF THE POWER FOR MY CAREER.

MY CAREER PROGRESSION AND MY REPUTATION AS WELL.

BECAUSE IF I DON'T DO THIS, THEN THAT PERSON'S GOING TO GO AND TELL EVERYONE THAT I'M A BAD SOLDIER AND I DON'T LISTEN AND I'M DISRESPECTFUL.

IN MY CASE, YOU SEE THAT WHERE IT'S LIKE, EVERY TIME I WOULD COME ALL OF A SUDDEN SOMETHING WOULD COME OVER MY HEAD AND SAY, YOU WANT TO GO TO I.G.? HERE'S THIS.

WE'RE GOING TO SAY YOU DID THIS.

IT'S LIKE, WAIT A MINUTE, WHY ARE YOU BRINGING THIS UP AT THIS EXACT MOMENT WHEN I'M TRYING TO GET HELP?

IT SILENCES YOU AGAIN AND YOU JUST KEEP GOING ON WITH YOUR LIFE, UNABLE TO LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND REALIZE, YOU'RE JUST STUCK.

WELL, ANDREA, I WANT TO BRING YOU BACK IN.

WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT, BUT YOU DID MENTION ABOUT SOME OF THE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT WERE BEGINNING TO TAKE PLACE.

CAN YOU JUST LET US KNOW WHAT IS POTENTIALLY ON THE TABLE TO HAPPEN TO ADDRESS SOME OF THESE ISSUES?

YEAH.

THE BIGGEST CHANGE THAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR -- ONE OF THE MAIN ISSUES IN THE MILITARY, GOING BACK TO KARINA'S STORY IS THAT BASICALLY THE MILITARY -- YOU KNOW, LIKE, CHECKS THEMSELVES.

YOU HAVE -- IF YOUR CASE IS IN THE CHAIN OF COMMAND, IT'S YOUR COMMANDER WHO DECIDES WHETHER THE CASE OF ASSAULT OR HA HARASSMENT IS PROSECUTED.

CHAIN OF COMMAND IS NONLAWYERS SO IT'S NOT AN UNBIASSED BROSS.

FOR DECADES ACTIVISTS HAD BEEN WANTING TO TAKE THOSE CASES OUT OF THE CHAIN OF COMMAND TO A BODY THAT WOULD REGULATE, AND THAT WAS ACHIEVED LAST YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND IT'S A HUGE CHANGE.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE A FEW YEARS FOR IT TO BE IMPLEMENTED.

BUT THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THAT STILL NEED TO CHANGE.

FOR INSTANCE, THOSE -- THE CASES THAT WE'RE TAKING OUT OF THE CHAIN OF COMMAND WERE SEXUAL ASSAULT BE AND MURDER AND OTHER REALLY GRAVE ASSAULTS.

BUT FOR INSTANCE SEXUAL HARASSMENT WAS NOT TAKEN OUT OF THE CHAIN OF COMMAND, AND THAT IS VERY CONTRADICTORY BECAUSE SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS A HIGH INDICATOR OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, RIGHT?

SO IF THE COMMANDERS ARE STILL HANDLING THOSE CASES THEN IT KIND OF FEELS LIKE A BIT OF A CONTRADICTION.

LIKE, PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO FEEL COMFORTABLE.

THAT'S A HUGE CHANGE.

I THINK CULTURE NEEDS TO CHANGE AS WELL, AND THAT'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO TAKE MANY, MANY YEARS.

OKAY.

IMPORTANT STEPS.

I DON'T MEAN TO CUT YOU OFF, BUT WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME.

I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THE FILM IS ' #I AM VANESSA GUILLEN'. YOU CAN STREAM IT ON UNIVISION.COM.

AND OF COURSE I WANT TO THANK THE FILM'S PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR, ANDREA.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

AND OF COURSE KARINA, ALSO, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US, AND THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY.

SO THANK YOU BOTH.

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

AND ANDREA.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

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