Former naval officer says she was raped by senior male colleague responsible for standards

Royal Navy ship
Royal Navy ship - iStockphoto

A former female naval officer has claimed she was raped by a senior male colleague who had responsibility for teaching standards and values in the military.

The unnamed woman, who has since left the Royal Navy, alleged she was sexually assaulted and raped by an officer senior in rank to her after drinking too much at a military mess function.

She claimed she was deemed “vulnerable” at the time because of a separate incident and that the man who she says attacked her held responsibilities for ensuring standards and values in the military, which included sexual consent.

Speaking to the BBC’s Woman’s Hour, the woman, who went by the pseudonym Joanna, said she was initially determined to bury what had happened to her as no one would believe her “because of who he was and what his rank was”.

Her story comes after the military has been repeatedly warned to tackle a “toxic culture” of sexual assault.

Last year Sophie Brook, who worked on the UK’s nuclear-armed submarines, went on record to raise the issue of sexual harassment and abuse onboard the vessels.

Joanna told the BBC she did report her alleged attacker to the Military Police who found grounds for two counts of rape and one of sexual assault by penetration.

However, despite this going to the Service Prosecution Authority, it was decided not to take it to the military court.

Her alleged attacker claimed the two had sex but that it was consensual.

‘Victim blaming’

Joanna, who was medically discharged from the Navy, said rape was a “dirty little secret”, within the military and accused the Armed Forces of “victim blaming”.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “Sexual assault and other sexual offences are not tolerated in the Royal Navy and anything which falls short of the highest of standards is totally unacceptable.

“We acknowledge that this incident will have had a significant impact to those involved and since then we have made significant changes to how incidents are reported and investigated.

“This includes providing specialist help to victims and witnesses of serious crime, independent from the military chain of command.

“We encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed any inexcusable behaviour to report it immediately.”