LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - For more than 20 years, Ja-Renna Floyd kept a terrible secret from her friends, her fellow soldiers and even her husband. In 1987, while deployed with the US Army in Germany, Floyd said she was raped by the sergeant who was her supervisor – then warned never to tell anyone, or be prepared to have "hell to pay."
"I felt there was no need to report it, because it wouldn't change the situation," Floyd said." It would have only made it worse."
It's that kind of attitude that leads many to believe that even a recent spike in the reporting of sexual assaults in the US military may mask an even bigger problem.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), has fought to improve the military justice system in ways that could help soldiers who are assaulted feel more confident in reporting the crime – and lead to more prosecutions.
"We know that victims in the military were hiding and not wanting to come out of the shadows because they were worried about the impact on their careers," McCaskill told 41 Action News. "This is a different kind of situation, where an assault may occur in the workplace and you've got to remain in the workplace as a member of the active military."
That description could fairly be applied to Floyd, who said she was assaulted during the opening weeks of a two-year deployment. After speaking out against another superior in an unrelated sexual harassment case, Floyd said she felt like she would be labeled a troublemaker if she reported the rape – and that no one would believe her.
"It seemed like sexual trauma in the military back then was unheard of," Floyd said. "I was not trying to be the test baby. I wasn't trying to be the Rosa Parks of that generation."
When Floyd finally opened up to VA counselors in 2008, she was diagnosed with PTSD – and urged to keep talking.
"I don't want to seem like I'm a victim. But I want to be a victor," Floyd said. "And I want to seem like this could happen to other people and it not be known, and telling my story could let others realize that yeah, it happened to me and I didn't speak up … but there is help. And I didn't realize there was help, until now."