FLORIDA – A woman who was the victim of a brutal rape underwent a “horrific” experience at the hands of TSA agents this past weekend at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport which ended up with her checking into a psychiatric ward.
The woman’s husband, posted an account of his wife’s experience on the Flyer Talk website.
His wife had been subjected to a violent sexual assault and death threats at the hands of three men in Florida five years previously, an experience that led to her committing self-harm and being forced to take medication and attend therapy sessions.
Traveling out of Florida due to a death in the family, his wife was asked to go through a backscatter x-ray device. When she said she would like to opt out, the TSA agent graphically described to her how “they will need to touch your privates,” a threat routinely used by TSA screeners to intimidate people into going through the body scanner.
“That just about did it for my wife, and she started shaking, sweating, and ended up going through the backscatter,” the man wrote.
However, despite passing through the x-ray device, TSA agents claimed an “anomaly” in the woman’s bra mandated she be patted down on her breasts.
When the woman asked for the pat down to take place in a private room with her husband present, the TSA agent became visibly annoyed and aggressive.
“As she started shaking and sobbing in the room as the TSO began to touch her breasts, I gently touched her arm. Big mistake – the TSO yelled that I couldn’t touch her and that I’d need to go through screening again,” the man wrote.
Despite taking medication to try and forget the experience, the woman’s trauma did not subside.
“Once we got to our home airport, she vomited in the bathroom and asked me to take her to the ER. Last night she checked into our local hospital, and they’re wanting to transfer her to a psychiatric ward for a few days until she stabilizes,” the man wrote, adding, “Is this worth it? Had she been permitted to go through the metal detector, she would have been fine. But the language of the TSOs and lack of sympathy towards anyone with mental health issues is repulsive. Every mental health professional we’ve talked to despises what the TSA is doing.”
Rape counselors have warned that women who have been sexually assaulted face treatment metered out by TSA screeners that can be “extremely re-traumatizing to someone who has already experienced an invasion of their privacy and their body.” An estimated one in six women in the United States have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
In December 2010, 56-year-old rape victim Claire Hirschkind was arrested for refusing to receive an “enhanced” pat down from a TSA officer at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The fact that TSA pat down procedures now often involve screeners physically touching people’s genitals is documented.
Back in May, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera described how he was “manually raped” by a TSA agent who touched his “junk”.
In November 2010, we reported the story of how radio host Owen JJ Stone was told by a TSA screener that his pat down would include the screener putting his hands down Stone’s pants. The TSA worker directly patted down his testicles, penis and backside while his hand was inside Stone’s pants. Stone was initially embarrassed to reveal the full scope of the groping but related the details of what amounted to nothing less than outright sexual molestation.
Also in November 2010, blogger Erin Chase went public to reveal how she literally had her vagina groped by a TSA screener, who touched both her labia as well as her buttocks and breasts during a pat down.
Former Miss USA Susie Castillo also revealed how a TSA worker touched her vagina during a pat down at Dallas-Fort Worth airport in April 2011 after she refused to go through a body scanner.