The spouse of an active duty Marine in Okinawa Prefecture is championing an initiative to provide support for people who have been sexually assaulted by members of the U.S. military.
Adrian Perry is the co-founder of Survivors United, an organization created in 2018 that aims to support survivors of sexual assault who have been victimized by U.S. service members — whether they be civilians, foreign nationals, dependents of a service member or a service member themselves.
“It makes me sad to think that one of our service members would come here and assault a Japanese or Okinawan person,” Perry said.
“It’s such a violent and degrading and humiliating form of a crime.”
Perry and her spouse were stationed in Okinawa from 2013 to 2016 and then relocated to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, before returning to Okinawa in October where they currently reside.
After her family was forced to deal with such a case, years ago, involving an active duty service member in the U.S. military, Perry experienced firsthand how hard it is for survivors of sexual assault to find justice.
The information she did find was “minimal” and “scattered,” she added.
“When we were going through what we went through, I researched for anything — any kind of resource that could help me understand the military justice system, help me understand what my rights are, help me understand what my children’s rights were when it came time to testify, how they could be protected,” Perry said.
“I needed help but I didn’t know where to go to get it.”
Perry said she wants the organization’s website, which was created earlier this year, to become a “one stop shop” for survivors looking to learn more about their legal rights and the resources available to them.
“Who do they tell? Do they go to the base and report it? Are they going to be able to feel confident and secure enough to be able to walk onto a military base or call the military base?” she said.
“Not everybody feels comfortable pursuing legal action.”
Perry co-founded Survivors United with Kylisha Boyd, a survivor of sexual assault perpetrated by a member of the U.S. military.
Together, they have been advocating on Capitol Hill in Washington for reform of the military justice system.
Perry has also testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services during a hearing on child sexual abuse in the military.
“For the most part I think that the Americans that come here, the service members, they’re all mostly very respectful and appreciate the culture as well,” Perry said.
“However, there’s going to be a few bad apples.”
The goal of Survivors United, Perry said, is to educate society on the reality and rampancy of sexual assault so that people can understand what survivors have to endure.
She says that someday they may seek nonprofit status but, for now, the priority is to find connections in the community and a translator, so that they can provide services in Japanese as well as English.
“Oftentimes survivors are silenced,” she said.
“If I can reach the local community, I would be honored.”