Freshman Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona revealed Wednesday that she was raped while she served in the military.
McSally, who is a Republican, made the revelation during a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military.
McSally said to witnesses present, "So like you, I am also a military sexual assault survivor," but she says she did not report and did not trust the system to do so. Welling up with emotion, McSally said she almost left the Air Force over her despair.
"Like many victims, I felt the system was raping me all over again. But I didn't quit, I decided to stay," she said after taking a pause to gather herself.
She called the issue of sexual assault in the military a "deeply personal" topic for her.
"We've come a long way to stop military sexual assault but we have a long way to go," McSally said.
An aide to the senator told CNN that she has spent the past several days working on the testimony. McSally felt the need to come forward because she wanted to speak honestly with witnesses.
McSally rose to the rank of colonel in the US Air Force before retiring. She was the first American woman to fly in combat after a ban on women was lifted.