The US Marines and the Secretary of Defense have said they are looking into a viral TikTok video shared by a female Marine in which she tearfully describes her disgust over the Corps handling of her sexual assault.
In the video, which was uploaded to TikTok by a user identified only as Davina and by the username @gwotthot on Thursday, the Marine claims that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow service member, who has been allowed to stay in the Corps.
According to the woman, despite an “admission of guilt” and “evidence,” the man has been allowed to remain in service because of a decision made by a commanding general.
“And this is exactly why f***ing females in the military f***ing kill themselves, this is exactly why nobody f***ing takes us seriously,” the woman says.
As of Friday, the clip, which was later deleted, had been viewed more than 5m times on TikTok, and has been viewed an additional 500,000 times on Twitter after it was shared to the platform, where users have tagged the Marines, members of Congress and Vice President Kamala Harris.
In a statement, the Marines said it is “aware of the video of the Marine in distress”.
“We are aware of the video of the Marine in distress,” the statement read. “The Marine Corps takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. The Marine’s command @iimefmarines has taken action to ensure the Marine is safe.”
This is what happens when you report your assault in the @USMC He admits his guilt and then is retained by the Commanding General after everyone else recommended do not retain. @RepSpeier @SenGillibrand @KamalaHarris @SecDef this is bullshit. #metoomilitary #sexualassault pic.twitter.com/xogqY4SPKI
— #NotInMyMarineCorps (@NotInMyMarines) February 18, 2021
In additional statements posted to Twitter Friday, the II Marine Expeditionary Force said that the Marine in the video is “safe” and has been “afforded the opportunity to meet with senior representatives in her command”.
We are aware of the video of the Marine in distress. The Marine Corps takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. The Marine's command @iimefmarines has taken action to ensure the Marine is safe.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) February 19, 2021
The II MEF also said that “the current administrative separation process for the accused perpetrator mentioned in the video is ongoing”.
“We take all allegations of prohibited conduct and activities seriously to ensure our people are fully supported with appropriate resources specific to the nature of an incident,” the statement continued.
Captain Casey Littesy, a spokeswoman for the service, said the Corps were aware of the video and are “gathering all the details of the situation” in a statement to Military.com
“Sexual assault is a crime, is unacceptable, and violates our core values of honor, courage and commitment,” Littesy told the outlet. “We will respond with an update when we have more information.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also addressed the video Friday during his first press conference, where he told reporters that he found the clip “deeply disturbing”.
“I found the video deeply disturbing,” he said, according to Insider. “I’ve asked my staff for additional information.”
The Defense Secretary also said that he cares “about each and every one of our troops” and would be asking that her “chain of command makes sure that someone is looking out after her needs and is making sure that we’re taking care of her”.
According to the Marine in the video, the perpetrator was originally set to be honorably discharged, but she later received word that he was retained.
The Independent has contacted the Marine who created the TikTok for comment.
In addition to bringing her own experience to the forefront, the video has again raised the topic of sexual assault among service members and how these cases are handled.
Shortly after Mr Austin took office, he ordered military leaders to report what they are doing to prevent sexual assault and harassment, according to the Military Times.
Mr Austin ordered leaders to report back to him by 5 February with “a summary of the sexual assault harassment and accountability measures” taken in the past year “that show promise, as well as a frank, data-driven assessment of those which do not,” the outlet states.
In 2019, the Department of Defense said it received 6,236 reports from service members indicating that they “experienced sexual assault,” an increase of three per cent from 2018.
The Independent has contacted the US Marines for comment.