Rape survivor assaulted by TSA

by Lisa Simeone on August 6, 2012

At a travel chat forum called FlyerTalk, a member named “brennandunn” has posted a thread detailing his and his wife’s experience at the hands of the TSA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  

He states that his wife is a survivor of sexual assault, an assault where she was threatened with death. I’ll let him tell the story:

Five years ago, she was violently sexually assaulted by three men and was threatened with death. She made it, and tried to bury it for three years. After nightmares, flashbacks, and cutting she told me everything two years ago, and since then has been seeing professional counseling and taking medication. The incident happened in FL, but we now live elsewhere. We were back in FL due to a death in the family – whenever we’re there, she’s always on edge (understandably). The security checkpoint had a backscatter and a metal detector active. I always opt-out, and unfortunately I was chosen to go through the metal detector instead of her. My wife was sent towards the backscatter, and told the TSO she didn’t want to go through that. I then overheard the TSO graphically describing that “they will need to touch your privates…” (I know TSOs routinely scare people into going through the nude-o-scopes.) That just about did it for my wife, and she started shaking, sweating, and ended up going through the backscatter.

But as many of us know and have been trying to tell people for years, just because you go through the scanner doesn’t mean that you won’t also be groped. That’s what happened here. The TSA deployed its magic word — “anomaly” — and demanded that the woman be pawed.

And then they discovered an “anomaly” in her bra, so she needed to be patted down on her breasts. This freaked her out even more. She asked for a private room and for me to be there, and it was obvious that this pissed off the female assist TSO. As she started shaking and sobbing in the room as the TSO began to touch her breasts, I gently touched her arm. Big mistake – the TSO yelled that I couldn’t touch her and that I’d need to go through screening again.

You see, showing compassion isn’t allowed. Touching your loved one as reassurance isn’t allowed. As this boy’s parents discovered, as this girl’s mother discovered, as this girl’s parents discovered.

And as countless other sexual assault survivors have discovered as well.

You can read the rest of the account at the link.

I will ask again the questions I have been asking for two years: why are people putting up with this? Why is this country putting up with this? Why are people who aren’t forced to fly still flying? And why are so many people, including journalists and politicians, making excuses for the abuse the TSA is perpetrating?

I’m still waiting for answers.

(Photo: addictinginfo.org)

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