A Marine who suffered a sexual assault on duty and consequently developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is reportedly in need of proper medical treatment after winding up in a brig.
Cpl. Thae Ohu, 26, was allegedly assaulted by a fellow Marine while stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 2015.
Since then, Ohu’s mental health deteriorated, family members say. Her boyfriend, Michael Edward Hinesley, also a Marine, noted that “she had gone internal” and tried to keep her experience a secret.
It’s unclear when Ohu first reported the incident. But in a June letter to Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, she stated that she had told superiors in 2018 — the same year she was diagnosed with PTSD.
“I have continuously expressed my issues and I have mentioned my sexual assault to my leadership since then,” Ohu wrote, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “However, I did not receive the care from my Command that I needed and instead they put me in a more grieving and hostile working environment that was degrading my mental health treatments instead of improving it.”
Ohu, however, has been locked up at the Navy Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake since June. She was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon following a mental breakdown on April 5.
The circumstances surrounding Ohu’s arrest are unclear. But Hinesley, her alleged victim, believes that the case should be dropped.
“She is a victim of sexual assault and everything that has happened to her can be easily tied to her service related trauma,” Hinesley wrote in a letter, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Taking care of victims of sexual violence is what we do as Marines and we don’t hang them out to dry.”
“You have one thing that no one can ever take from you. That’s your voice,” she said in her speech.
The Marine Corps has reportedly declined to discuss Ohu’s sexual assault claims. However, they pointed out they take such allegations “very seriously.”
Meanwhile, family, friends and advocates specializing in military sexual trauma (MST) are calling for proper medical treatment. Her sister, Pan Phyu, a Navy sailor based in San Diego, recalled Ohu sharing that she was being held in solitary confinement and attempted suicide earlier this year.
“Her incarceration is hindering her treatment. She is placed on minimum standard of living; with solitary confinement. She is still there, receiving little to no help in mental health services. Her punishment is thought to be of retaliation for the mishandling of her sexual assault report,” said a post from a campaign Facebook page in July.
Phyu encourages people to write to her sister. In August, Ohu penned a letter to her growing number of supporters.
It read: “I love you all so much, it’s painful to be away. Most times it’s unbearable when left to my thoughts. Yet I’m trying to hold on to happy memories. I’m looking forward to be reunited once more. I’ve been treated inhumanely, but Father’s guidance has taught me to be strong. I am only holding on to hope.”