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March 7th, 2014
06:02 PM ET

Military rape survivor: Sen. McCaskill betrayed us

(CNN) – The U.S. Senate this week defeated an impassioned legislative push to reduce the growing problem of sex assault in the armed forces by overhauling the way the military prosecutes serious crimes.

A bill championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage, by a vote of 55 to 45. The measure would have removed military commanders from deciding whether most serious allegations of wrongdoing by their subordinates should be prosecuted. The responsibility would have been shifted to prosecutors outside the chain of command.

Sen. Claire McCaskill led the effort to defeat Gillibrand's bill, a move military sexual assault survivor BriGette McCoy slammed.

"It's a blanket betrayal what has happened," said McCoy, saying the Missouri senator "has shown us her cards."

"She sat down with us survivors, asked us so many questions, and included us in so many dialogues. And we perceived over a year or so ago, that she was going to be supportive of making changes within the system," McCoy said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

McCoy was raped on her first military assignment, two weeks before her 19th birthday. Later that year, she was raped by another soldier in her unit. Then came sexual harassment by two officers – including one who requested that she be moved to work directly for him.

Testifying before lawmakers last year, the former Army specialist described the "anguish" and "entrapment" she felt, and the horror of the ordeal that followed.

Military rape victims: Stop blaming us

"When I reported (the sexual assault and harassment) to my commanding officer, and wrote a written report, and stood in front of him and explained what happened, they basically said I misunderstood what was going on, that this (non-commissioned officer) was trying to help me," McCoy told CNN.

McCoy said if there had been support and someone she could have reported to outside the chain of command, she would have reported the rapes earlier.

"It just wasn't available. And it still isn't available," said McCoy, who founded "Women Veterans Social Justice," a non-profit that provides services to female veterans.

McCoy supports the Gillibrand amendment that died in the Senate, and says the current system is flawed.

"It's an antiquated system, it doesn't work," said McCoy.

"Across the board, we do have more people coming forward saying this is happening to them because they perceive something is going to change," said McCoy. "We have people who are ... survivors like myself who are saying we want to support something that's going to protect the people coming in."

For more of our interview with BriGette McCoy, check out the video above.

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