Story by Monica K. Guthrie on 01/23/2017FORT SILL, Okla. (April 7, 2016) -- Editor's note: With respect to April being Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, the Tribune is publishing a three-part series titled "Victim to survivor." The series tells the story of a young woman who went from a victim of sexual assault to a survivor. Because of the nature of the content, it may not be suitable for children. *indicates a name change.
It was Independence Day 2013 and Sgt. Tiffanie Crea's third day in country at Camp Casey, Korea. The in-processing group she was in was released early to enjoy the holiday. Crea and her roommate set off to the post exchange to pick up personal hygiene products and, if possible, buy a cell phone.
"I thought maybe we'd go get some stuff and chill, and try and have fun in a new country," said Crea.
It was while shopping at the post exchange, Crea ran into Albert Boone* a friend she made in basic training.
"I said hi and he actually helped me buy my cell phone and showed me where to go," she said. "After that he asked 'you want to come to my room and watch a movie?'"
Crea's roommate was married and wanted to find a way to talk on the phone and try to Skype with her husband. Boone was happy to offer his computer and soon they were all off to his room.
"My case is not your typical case in that I had my roommate in the room too," said Crea. "She was in the corner, in the computer chair, on the computer and talking on her cell phone and crying because she missed her family."
The roommate didn't notice Crea and Boone sitting on the bed talking. After a while Boone began to pressure Crea into engaging in sexual activity.
"I said 'naw, we're just friends,' and he was just like 'I haven't had it in a while' and I told him, 'I don't like you like that," said Crea.
Despite her resistance Crea said she knew things were going to end badly when he began to undo her pants.
"I froze," she said.
Years earlier, as a child, Crea was a victim of child molestation. As Boone began to force himself on her, Crea was reminded of her past and found herself unable to break free and soon quit fighting all together. Then Boone moved Crea into the bathroom and began to rape her repeatedly.
"He didn't get really angry, just upset and he kept saying, 'I haven't had it in a while.' I didn't want him to hurt (my roommate)," she said. "I thought he would do something to her like he was going to do to me so I acted like I liked it and went along. I thought the first time was going to be enough but he wanted it again and again so I just kept going along."
When Crea and her roommate were finally able to leave, Crea said she went home, took a shower and talked to friends before going to bed. She didn't tell them what happened to her.
"Most people aren't willing to talk about it right away," said Adrienne Finn, the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Sexual Harassment and Assault, Response and Prevention (SHARP) victim advocate and sexual assault response coordinator. "In most cases it can take years to decide they want to talk about what happened to them. It's not a situation where, like most crimes, you report it right away. It's a situation where a lot of people need to find their support and usually they talk to someone they know before they talk to anyone else and report it."
It would be two months before Crea would tell anyone. In the mean time Crea became depressed. She stopped eating everything but oatmeal, macaroni and cheese cups and chicken nuggets. She found it difficult to concentrate and didn't do the things that used to bring her joy.
"I stopped doing everything I loved, running mostly," she said. "I did that every day, but after that, I didn't care. The only thing that helped me was work and when I wasn't working I was in my room, not really talking."
Crea finally did tell a friend but wasn't ready to report the incident. Then, In September 2013 while Crea's unit was in the field, a discussion on sexual harassment and rape prevention resulted in a noncommissioned officer saying it was a woman's fault if she was raped. Crea's friend spoke up, attacking the statement and the heated debate escalated until it was finally subdued by a SHARP representative.
"I kept quiet until it was over and then I told my roommate what happened," said Crea. "My roommate said, 'you need to tell the SHARP representative."