Greg Nelson had just turned 21 when he went out partying with friends in Southern California and got really drunk. So, when a man he didn’t know offered to let him crash in a nearby apartment, his friends urged him to accept.
A Marine who had joined the Corps in 2007, Nelson remembers getting sick and being offered water that seemed to have white specks in it. He said the man then offered him another glass of water and a pill that was supposedly Motrin.
What happened next is a bit of a blur to Nelson, who says he blacked out and woke up feeling like he was “in a vegetative state.” He remembers the man sexually assaulting him, but says he couldn’t move and blacked out again.
Sexual assaults on men in the military happen more often than people might think. But Nelson, who left the Marine Corps in 2011 as a corporal, is one of the rare men willing to report it and talk about it openly.
According to an anonymous survey released last week by the Pentagon, nearly 1 percent of males in the U.S. military said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact, compared to 4.3 percent of women. That equates to about 10,500 men and 8,500 women. Yet only 14 percent of assaults reported last year involved male victims.