Back to Military Policy

JBLM sexual assault survivor turns tragedy into triumph

"The Invisible War" is visible

Former Army Spc. Christina Jones and her daughter, Delmaris, 12, are closer after Jones' military sexual assault. Photo credit: Corinne Lincoln Pinheiro

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Former Army Spc. Christina Jones swallowed 30 morphine pills and slumped against her bedpost. "Maybe this time, I'll get it right," she whispered, referring to her second suicide attempt in a week. The voices in her head grew distant and Polaroid images of terror blurred.

Jones was sexually assaulted three times by a senior non-commissioned officer. The last assault occurred in the same unit she and her husband served in at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"I became a recluse and didn't leave my room for five years except for doctor's appointments," said Jones, who served with JBLM's 47th Combat Support Hospital (CASH), part of the 62nd Medical Brigade. "I was angry, hopeless and broken and couldn't even focus on (my daughter) Delmaris."

The first sexual assault took place while Jones was in-processing at Fort Campbell, Ky. She had just turned 18 years old; her attacker was demoted but her forwarding unit was informed of the incident. The second assault in Germany by a first sergeant ended in his (civilian) imprisonment, but only for the three German nationals he'd previously raped. Her unit didn't believe her claim even though a roommate walked in on the assault. The third alleged assaulter was never punished and she continued to work across the hall from him until she medically retired in 2003.

Gone was her Army pride, that sense of direction the military gave her, the camaraderie of being part of a team. But the military also taught Jones accountability, strength and determination. In the end, that's what saved her life.

After a retreat for Military Sexual Trauma (MST) survivors, Jones developed the courage to appear in The Invisible War documentary. Later, when the Army launched its Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program, Jones was invited to speak during training.

Today on JBLM, the Army is not only using the documentary as an educational tool in its sexual harassment and sexual assault training, but Jones has spoken in several training classes, including the unit she was sexually assaulted in.

"I grew tired of wasting away and being sick," she said, "so I got out of bed. I was scared of speaking in front of my old unit but I wanted to make a difference. What motivates me now is encouraging Soldiers to come forward. If one victim or would-be offender seeks help because of what I've shared, then that means I did good. My husband and daughter help me to be brave too."

In fact, Delmaris, 12, also presents during each class; she discussed the effects of MST on family members based on a letter she wrote about her experience.

"I volunteered because I wanted to help mom," said Delmaris, a student of Liberty Middle School who recently won the Presidential Award for her scholastic achievements. "She taught me how to stand up for others and not to be afraid. I want people to know that you can get through it, and no matter what never lose hope. I'm so glad my mom got her voice back."

Jones commends JBLM's efforts and the SHARP program. "Victims have a place to go now," she said, "and leadership is serious and passionate about the issues; they're finally doing something about MST. Maybe now offenders will receive deserving punishment and victims will be protected from re-victimization."

LINK: Army adopts new approach to military sexual assault

Read next close

People Rule

How to be a military journalist

comments powered by Disqus