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Panayiota Bertzikis

Panayiota Bertzikis enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 2005. In May 2006 she reported a brutal rape by a shipmate while stationed at Station Burlington, VT. After reporting the assault she felt that her command did not take her allegations seriously, locking her up in a closet while it was investigated. Her command concluded that the rape was a “misunderstanding” and forced her and the alleged perpetrator to clean out the attic in order to “work out their differences”.  A month after she was transferred to Coast Guard Boston after Coast Guard Investigative Services was informed of the rape allegations. However at Coast Guard Boston they failed to provide her with medical and psychological treatment for post-rape syndrome. Not being satisfied with the Coast Guard’s lack of sensitivity and response to the seriousness of this crime she formed the Military Rape Crisis Center to provide support to her fellow shipmates and rape survivors. As of 2010 she has assisted over 5000 military rape survivors in Boston and Washington DC offices. As a direct result of this rape the United States Coast Guard hired a full-time Sexual Assault Program Coordinator and was one of the leading forced behind the Defense Sexual Trauma Response Oversight and Good Governance Act. May 30, the anniversary of this rape is also Military Sexual Trauma awareness day with events held throughout the nation to bring awareness to sexual assaults in the military.

Panayiota was born in Greece and raised in New York City. She graduated  summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts in 2010 with a degree in Sociology and Women Studies. Panayiota is currently a Master of Social Work candidate specializing in Trauma and Interpersonal Violence. She currently resides in the Greater Boston area.

Awards and Recognitions:

Peter Vogel Gold Leadership Award (twice)
Peter Vogel Silver Leadership Award
Massachusetts 2010 Unsung Heroine

 

 

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