JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas --
Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Stone of the 187th Medical Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and Monika Korra, an author and speaker, spoke about their ordeals of being sexually assaulted, overcoming and healing before separate audiences April 18 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
The talks by both sexual assault survivors marked Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at JBSA. Korra spoke at two sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Post Theater. Stone had his talk in the afternoon at the Brooke Army Medical Center auditorium.
Recalling his time growing up in his hometown of Goldsboro, N.C., Stone said he became friends with a middle school teacher, who he met at a restaurant he was working at, when he was in high school.
One day in the summer of 1992, at the age of 15, Stone went over to the man’s house. Stone said the man told him to come into his room to see some new cassettes he had bought. When Stone got into the room, the man raped him.
For 18 years, Stone said did not tell anyone about the sexual assault because he felt ashamed about it. It was not until a night in January 2010, when he was stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala., that he felt the need to open up.
“I was driving down the street,” he said. “I started to shake uncontrollably. I started to cry uncontrollably. I had to pull over because I couldn’t drive anymore. And I realized at that time the demon I had been storing inside for almost 18 years, he was ready to come out.”
The next day he enrolled in an out-patient behavioral health program and told what had happened to him for the first time to a group of strangers. Once he did that, Stone said he felt a burden had been lifted from his shoulders.
Later in 2010, Stone told his story to Goldsboro, N.C., police and prosecutors, who opened a case against the man who raped Stone. Before the case was to go to trial, the man plea bargained and served time in jail before dying a few years ago.
Stone said he speaks about his experience because he wants to bring awareness and attention to the issue of male sexual assault in the military.
“This is my therapy, speaking and telling my story helps me get through the day,” Stone said.
Korra was gang raped by three men during her freshman year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2009. The incident started while she and her best friend were walking back to campus from a party when a van pulled up and she was kidnapped at gunpoint. After Korra was pulled into the van, her friend went to notify the police.
After being raped, the men pushed her out of the van. Exhausted, shocked and with duct tape still stuck in her hair, a Dallas police officer located Korra. She was then taken to a hospital for treatment.
Korra said she started her recovery by doing something she was passionate about – running. She had come to SMU from her native Norway on a track and field scholarship.
“The most important thing was for me was to take back my identity,” she said. “I constantly heard this word victim, sexual assault victim Monika Korra, and for me that’s not the person I am. I am the runner; I have always been the runner. So that was the most important thing for me was to just hold on to that and never let what happened to me change who I am.”
Korra wrote what she experienced in a diary and was able to identify her attackers. She testified against her attackers in three separate trials, with two of the men sentenced to prison for life and one for 25 years after he plead guilty.
Once her attackers were put into prison, Korra said she began to feel she could move on and live her life. Through a victim remediation program, Korra was able to meet and talk to one of her attackers – the one who had been sentenced 25 years – in prison.
When Korra met her attacker, the man burst into tears and apologized. She told him she would forgive him if he promised to work hard every day to become a better person and when he got out, not to harm anyone else again. Korra then gave him a contract of terms he had to meet to earn her forgiveness, which the man signed.
“I was able to walk out of that room that day with my head held high, knowing that all of this belongs to my past,” Korra said. “For me it was time to move ahead into my future.”
Korra continued her running career at SMU, helping the cross country team win a conference title. She graduated from SMU in 2012. Korra also started a foundation, which assists survivors of sexual assault, and is the author of “Kill the Silence,” which she writes about her experience being raped and her recovery from it.