Talking about a rape is never easy. For years, it's been somewhat taboo in the military, even more so when the victims are men, who are much less likely to report it.
One member of the Coast Guard is breaking his silence to show other victims that this is a battle that can be won.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Eddie Cheveresan is a Coast Guard aviation technician and a rape survivor.
“I didn't have an option, I didn't have a choice,” Cheveresan says.
Cheveresan believes someone drugged his drink while he was at a bar back in 2003, and another man he considered a friend raped him while he was unconscious.
“I don't remember going to his house. I don't remember going up the stairs. The next thing I knew, I woke up and I was completely naked,” says Cheveresan.
He told his family, but didn't report it to police and tried to move on with life. He got married, had a daughter, and joined the Coast Guard.
Cheveresan says suffering in silence ended his marriage and almost his life. He pulled the trigger to kill himself and the gun malfunctioned
“It was painful to realize. You're going through all the stuff. The sobering reality for me, actually got to the point of suicide. That’s when I realized I need help. I've got to talk to somebody about this,” says Cheveresan.
Fourteen years after the rape, he told the Coast Guard earlier this year and is finally getting counseling.
“I'm not alone and that's the whole point. With thoughts of suicide, I thought if I reported this that they would kick me out, and we can't deal with that, but they actually showed the exact opposite: we're here for you,” says Cheveresan.
In the past couple of years, the Department of Defense launched a new program to help men in the military feel more comfortable reporting rape by assuring confidentiality, promoting sexual assault prevention, and improving treatment for victims. The Coast Guard followed suit.
“Man or woman, I'd say the same thing: get the help. I know it's scary that very first step. I know it's painful. Not dealing with that is scarier. The long-term effects are scarier: your family will suffer, your relationships will suffer, everything will suffer, until you deal with it,” Cheveresan says.
Cheversesan isn't alone.
The Department of Defense estimates nearly 15,000 service members are victims of rape, but about two-thirds don't report it.
For men, 47 percent wanted to forget about it and move on, 39 percent didn't want more people to know, 37 percent thought it wasn’t serious enough to report, and 37 percent felt shamed or embarrassed.