What would have likely been a routine flight out of a Florida airport this weekend ended with a woman being sent to the emergency room after TSA agents insisted on groping a traumatized rape victim in a security pat-down that put her in the hospital.
A user of the online Web forum FlyerTalk.com writes that his wife was admitted to the ER for treatment after agents with the Transportation Security Administration cited an “anomaly” in her bra as a reason to subject her to an intrusive closed-door screening on Sunday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The woman, described by her husband as the victim of brutal rape, was reportedly being transferred to a psychiatric ward for further treatment after what the man says was a “horrific experience.”
“Five years ago, she was violently sexually assaulted by three men and was threatened with death,” her husband writes. “She made it, and tried to bury it for three years. After nightmares, flashbacks and cutting she told me everything two years ago, and since then has been seeing professional counseling and taking medication.”
The husband adds that the rape occurred in Florida and although the couple no longer lives there, his wife is always on edge when they pass through the Sunshine State. This weekend’s incident didn’t make matters any better.
“My wife was sent towards the backscatter, and told the TSO [Transportation Security Officer] she didn't want to go through that,” her husband writes, referring to the high-tech x-ray machines that let agents get an undercover look at what’s on a passengers person. “I then overheard the TSO graphically describing that ‘they will need to touch your privates,’” the author writes.
“That just about did it for my wife,” he adds, explaining that the TSO’s order quickly sent his wife into a fit of shakes and sweats as she was forced to let TSA agents have an x-rated look at her exposed body. Her problems didn’t end there, though.
“And then they discovered an ‘anomaly’ in her bra, so she needed to be patted down on her breasts. This freaked her out even more,” he adds. “She asked for a private room and for me to be there, and it was obvious that this pissed off the female assist TSO. 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 author writes that his wife was able to make it to the plane after taking several pills but, once the flight landed, she asked to go to the ER after she began vomiting.
“Is this worth it?” he asks. “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.”
“Do rape victims or other people suffering with PTSD have any rights, or is it the usual if you don't like it, don't fly! bull?”