First Person: I am a ✂️ FSO who was ✂️ raped in ✂️… Continuing on has been ✂️ incredibly difficult…

Posted: 12:45 am ET
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Below is a redacted version of the Burn Bag we received. The red scissor indicates the parts of the Burn Bag that we purposely snipped (see explanation below):

I am a ✂️ FSO who was ✂️ raped, in  ✂️

It has been an extremely painful ….. ✂️

Continuing on has been an (sic) incredibly difficult.

To have to continue to go ✂️  with this threatening and frightening person still present and looming around, has been terrifying.

In addition to not feeling safe with this violent criminal down the hallway, I have been grappling in fear and lost about what to do.

Like the grim picture your recent article on sexual assault reporting paints, it’s been hard to gather information on what to do.

I’ve heard of two accounts of other FSOs who’ve been sexually assaulted and these violent criminals are still serving as diplomats, with no apparent justice served despite their efforts to address the issue through HR.

I have many specific questions. ✂️

Is there some place outside of the State Dept and other than the police where one can make a report?

✂️ [W]hat about when the assailant is of equal “rank,” particularly, also a FSO? I’ve heard that in these situations, although both the victim and perpetrator were both FSOs, that it tends to discount the crime overall because it’s “embarrassing” to the Department that a FSO would do this. In the end, the female FSO who was assaulted seems to get no real justice. ✂️

What about AFSA? Is there anyone we can talk to at AFSA who has past experiene or specializes in Sexual Adsault (sic) and Harrassment issues in the FS?

I know that this is sent anonymously and that I can’t get these answers directly.

So I hope that Diplopundit will consider an update to the Sexual Assault blog around the questions I’ve raised ✂️

You have at least one oerson (sic) here in the FS family suffering greatly who would appreciate any information or guidance. Thank you.


Redacted Burn Bag – a Rare Exception

As we’ve previously written here, we received this Burn Bag submission regarding sexual assault in the Foreign Service. We have no way to contact the sender directly but we know that she reads this blog (90% of adult rape victims are female, so we will use the feminine pronoun in this blogpost). She wanted us to have the information for publication since she did send the information via Burn Bag. While we almost never redact/edit the Burn Bag submissions we post in this blog, we are making a rare exception here.  We are doing so because we have serious concerns that posting all details and locations contained in the Burn Bag submission could identify the victim/assault survivor or alert the perpetrator. While the Burn Bag is clearly intended for publication, we do not wish to place the victim/survivor in potential additional jeopardy, and that’s why this version is redacted.

We should note that this is the second anonymous FSO who reported to us their sexual assault while in the Foreign Service. A third employee who did not want us to use her name has also recently reached out to this blog about her assault while posted in a war zone. She shared  the fallout from her reporting and we will post that account separately.


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2 responses

  1. As a former prosecutor who has worked with sexual assault victims I would encourage you to find resources and allies to help. This can range from documenting the assault with a rape kit and reporting it to the RSO or medical staff at post to seeking counseling to be able to talk about the situation privately and outside the embassy community. The justice system is not kind to women who report sexual assault and your situation is complicated by fact that our jobs are often very intertwined with our personal life and the lives of others at post. However, there is a good chance that others have experience with this, either as a survivor, or a friend of a survivor. At the very least find someone you can talk to about your options or that will just listen and allow you to have an emotional release. You shouldn’t and don’t have to do this alone. The unfortunate thing is that this person likely has done this before and will do this again, so it would be ideal if you could report them, as this may give others the courage to come forward, but you must do what you need to do to protect your mental health and your career. Good luck and be safe.

  2. Anyone wanting to report any kind of assault by a coworker may begin by contacting DS’s Office of Special Investigations. They will decide the best way to proceed, regardless of jurisdiction (overseas or domestic) and assist you along the way. Initial contact can be made via their Duty numbers, which are available on the Intranet or through the DS Command Center.

    Sexual assault in the Foreign Service is not a new, or unusual event. There is no shame in reporting this act against you. The professional agents in OSI are well trained to assist you and help you understand your options. This absolutely should be reported so that you can get the assistance you deserve.