“Invisible War” shows sexual assault problems in military

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

The film “The Invisible War” was shown in the Davies Theater March 11 and 12 by the LGBTQ and Women’s Resource Center along with affiliate American Association of University Women. It is a documentary that shines light on rape and sexual harassment in the military.

Directed and written by documentarian Kirby Dick, who also made “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” the movie follows the lives of several women and men who had been sexually assaulted during their time serving the country.

LGBTQ and Women’s Resource Center Coordinator Chris Jorgenson said he thinks it is important the film be shown on campus because as the subjects of the documentary say themselves, it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s an issue for the entire country.

“In regard to sexual assault, it is an area that begs much more scrutiny than it is given,” he said. “It is a huge issue in the military for women and men.”

Jorgenson said he thinks it will make people feel strong emotions after viewing the film.

“I think they’ll be engaged by it,” he said. “I think they’ll be shocked by it. I think they’ll be angered by it. I think they’ll be frustrated by it and to me that’s the hallmark of a good program; if you leave feeling something that strongly.”

The AAUW, an organization dedicated to advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, is co-hosting the event with the resource center in an effort to highlight this particular issue.

In “The Invisible War,“ there are many women that share their stories of assault, as well as a few men. The victims talk about their experiences. One woman in particular had been repeatedly assaulted by higher ranking officers. Another was fighting to have an attack-related injury covered by disability pay, which is given to those who are no longer serving.

The filmmakers share research about military survivors of assault. Women who have been raped while serving are twice as likely to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder than their male counterparts who served in combat.

Military Education Benefits Coordinator Miranda Cross-Schindler said she viewed the film Monday night and had a very strong reaction to the things she saw in the documentary.

“It’s very disheartening,” she said. “It just really made me quite angry to see such a failure of justice happening within the military.”

She added that the campaigns the military use are very much aimed toward victim blaming.

“Prevention, yes, is absolutely half the battle,” Cross-Schindler said. “You should be more aware, but you can’t always be in control of your surroundings and who you’re with. You should be able to walk from building to building without having your battle buddy with you.”

Although Cross-Schindler said she thinks the campaigns put into action by the military are ridiculous and would be undoubtedly laughed at, she cautioned that just because assault happens, it isn’t something that should prevent an interested female from enlisting.

She cited several examples of reviews she found online of people bashing the military and understands their line of thinking, but didn’t agree with them.

Bradley Frahm, assistant professor of military science, said he is aware of campaigns the military has put in place and has participated in briefings that help prevention of sexual assault while serving.

“I think awareness is good to try to increase the preventative measures,” Frahm said. “Fortunately, it hasn’t happened to anybody I know. It’s something that happens, it’s unfortunate and we all need to do our best to prevent it from happening in the first place.”