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. 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 incident happened in FL, but we now live elsewhere.
We were back in FL due to a death in the family – whenever we’re there, she’s always on edge (understandably). The security checkpoint had a backscatter and a metal detector active. I always opt-out, and unfortunately I was chosen to go through the metal detector instead of her. My wife was sent towards the backscatter, and told the TSO she didn’t want to go through that. I then overheard the TSO graphically describing that “they will need to touch your privates…” (I know TSOs routinely scare people into going through the nude-o-scopes.) That just about did it for my wife, and she started shaking, sweating, and ended up going through the backscatter.
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. 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.
I was furious, but my wife wanted to just get out of the checkpoint and to our gate. She popped some pills and was hoping it would all go away… But it didn’t. 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.
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.
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?