Service Members and Veterans Use Hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen to Share Their Stories of Sexual Abuse in the Military

Jul 1, 2020
3:34 PM

Vanessa Guillen. (Courtesy of US Army CID)

The story of Vanessa Guillén has captured the nation today, following reports that unidentified body remains were found near the Fort Hood base in Killeen, Texas. Guillén, a 20-year-old soldier, was last seen on April 22.

Her mother said that prior to her disappearance, Guillén had come forth to her with allegations that she had been sexually harassed by superiors.

“My sister deserves justice, that’s why we demand a Congressional investigation to be done, because Fort Hood doesn’t do anything, at all, and this is proof they have lied to us,” Guillén’s sister, Vanessa, said in tears during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

As Vanessa Guillén’s name trends across the country, service members —mostly women— are sharing their stories of sexual assault and abuse in the military, using the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen.

Here are some of their stories:

Most of the stories have one thing in common: lack of accountability. A 2019 Defense Department’s fiscal year 2019 report said there were 7,825 sexual assault reports involving service members as victims or subjects. A previous report found that enlisted women ages 17 to 24 were at the highest risk of being assaulted. That same year, the rate of reporting declined, a trend some say reflects a lack of trust in the ranks.

Some of those who shared their stories said their assailant was still in the military.

A suspect in Guillén’s case, another soldier, was found dead from a self-inflicted wound on Tuesday evening.

Chris Grey, a spokesperson for the Army Criminal Investigation Division told ABC13 that the case is still under investigation. “There is still a lot of investigative work to be done and we ask for the public and media’s patience,” Grey said.

Investigators say that it may take some time to identify the human remains found. And while the family’s attorney believes the remains are those of Vanessa Guillén, her younger sister says she’s holding out for hope: “The human remains have not been confirmed, but I won’t lose hope in God.”


Amanda Alcántara is the Digital Media Editor at Futuro Media. She tweets from @YoSoy_Amanda.