U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Marisa Woytek is coming forward to discuss the sexual harassment she’s been subjected to because of a Facebook group. Woytek says that photos from her private Instagram page were circulated on the Facebook group named Marines United, which brought forth numerous incidents of sexual harassment and abuse from her fellow marines. Furthermore, Reveal reports that hundreds of Marines are being investigated for sharing photos of naked colleagues.
The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating hundreds of Marines who are said to have used social media to exchange up to thousands of naked photos of women service members and veterans.
More than two dozen women – both active and former duty – have been identified by their rank, full name and military duty station in photographs posted in the private Facebook group since January 30. The photo sharing began on January 5 after the first Marine infantry unit was assigned women.
The Facebook activity on the Marines United group page was unearthed by The War Horse, a nonprofit news organization run by Marine veteran Thomas Brennan.
“We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other: This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy,” Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, a senior enlisted Marine on active duty, wrote in an email response. “It is inconsistent with our core values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”
Also according to the Washington Post, the former Marine and defense contractor who posted the Marines United Facebook group link has since been fired.
Wyotek, who is married to fellow Marine Zacahry Wyotek, had this to say about the ordeal: “Even if I could, I’m never reenlisting. Being sexually harassed online ruined the Marine Corps for me, and the experience.” She thanks the reporting from Reveal and War Horse because other victims “have a voice now.” When a friend told her that her pictures had been uploaded without her permission, Wyotek was startled and upset to see that many comments made reference to rape and sexual violence. Wyotek believes many other victims have not yet spoken out due to fear of retaliation.
The Marine Corps is now investigating and released the following statement: “The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the deorgatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines our core values.”
Marisa served on the USS Boxer while her husband served on the USS New Orleans. The couple were married in October 2016 in Fulshear, Texas.