In 2004, seeking greater financial security for her family, military wife and mother Barker secured a one-year assignment working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq. Her memoir chronicles her sexual abuse, the military contractor’s attempted coverup and her prolonged battle for justice.
The author’s orientation in Houston did not go well. She felt the atmosphere was unprofessional, as medical exams were given in a shoddy, substandard building, and prospective employees’ meals were of poor quality. Nonetheless, Barker gave Halliburton the benefit of the doubt and traveled to Iraq. The author felt unprepared for the dangerous environment she encountered. Security was lax, drugs and alcohol, though banned at the camp, were rampant, and a chaotic atmosphere reigned. “I often wondered what the hardworking American people would think if they knew they were paying for such complete incompetence,” she writes. When Barker lodged a complaint against her supervisor, her situation deteriorated quickly. She was held in a shipping container for three days and told she would lose her job if she attempted to leave. After a co-worker raped her, Barker was abandoned in the desert. Upon her return to the States, she sought counseling and hired a team of attorneys. Her struggle for justice became as harrowing as her experiences in Iraq. Barker’s attorneys purposefully misled her, creating stressful and expensive delays. “Like most people,” she writes, “before the experiences described in this book, I wholeheartedly believed in America, and blindly trusted our judicial system. Then, the system egregiously failed my family, my fellow citizens, and me.” The author’s story is interspersed with comments from her husband regarding his wife’s nightmarish situation, the tensions created within the family and his thoughts concerning the legal malfeasance the couple encountered.
Barker’s story shines an important light on the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace while exposing the shoddy ethical standards and procedures of Halliburton/KBR.