Lory Gatter endured an abusive childhood, starting at a young age. Like many other survivors of childhood abuse, Gatter developed emotional challenges that prevented her from engaging in healthy interpersonal relationships. As a result, she had difficulty leaving multiple abusive relationships throughout her 20s and early 30s.
Her song, “No Cinderella,” was inspired by her life-long fight to finally stand up for herself and to be her own hero. The song opens with a simile, contrasting a fairytale expectation with a lived nightmare: “It wasn’t like a fairytale, but I fell under their spell. Believing the words…‘You will do what you’re told, and that’s all that you’re worth.’ Black & blue, always knew that something was wrong. Just in time, realized that I was the hero all along.”
Gatter recalled joining the Army as an escape, an attempt to gain freedom and take control of her life. She enlisted in 1985, after the birth of her first child, and served as a 76P MOS material control and accounting specialist.
While stationed in Korea, she was sexually assaulted. When she reported the incident, she was met with hostility and was discouraged from filing an official report. She was naive listening to that advice, and as the only woman in her unit, she believes that the event was why she was never promoted, even after newer and lower-ranking male soldiers promoted ahead of her. Her concerns were ignored and dismissed, and she became depressed and suicidal.
Seeking help from VA
In 2003, while living in Las Vegas, Gatter sought help for how to cope with her past trauma. But it wasn’t until 2017, when Gatter moved to West Virginia and began attending group therapy at a Veteran Affairs Medical Clinic, that she learned about the Operation Song program.
Writing a song about her struggles helped Gatter cope with her mental health problems. She felt that she could finally get her story out there. “It was a great experience because I think the song does represent me a lot,” she said. She wanted the song to empower other Veterans who have dealt with similar issues. “Just stop pushing me down,” she sings. “I am a fighter, and I am resilient.”
Writer: Rachel Heimann
Editor: Michael Yesis
Graphics: Michelle Zischke