Leslie Carol Botha: Brilliant and powerful article by Marcia G. Yerman. Love how Yerman starts the article with the statement – “If this is happening to me, I can’t be the only one.” Women have suffered many forms of abuse – and because we are so shamed by it – we are afraid to speak out and too often think we are the only ones this is happening to. I believe that if it happens to one woman – it happens to all women. There is no shame there. The “Invisible War” is part of the healing process. We need to support our sisters as they start speaking out the abuse they have endured. It is the only way they will heal – and that the collective conscious of all women will heal.
“The Invisible War” — Documentary Spotlighting Rape in the Military Aims to Create National Awareness
By Marcia G. Yerman
July 9, 2012
“If this is happening to me, I can’t be the only one.”
That epiphany is shared in the new documentary, The Invisible War, which takes an in-depth look at the impunity with which rape in the military is handled.
Directed by Kirby Dick, it was recently featured at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, where it garnered the Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking. The Invisible War interweaves devastating statistics with the personal stories of a group of women and one man. Their lives have been forever altered by “soul-shattering” violations from those they had believed to be a trusted family—the military.
The subjects relate their narratives while sharing their original feelings of pride and accomplishment in performing their jobs and being part of a community. That idealism dissipated as the structures put in place to create unity and cohesion turned against them when they sought justice for the brutalities committed.
Over 20 percent of female veterans have been sexually assaulted while serving. 80 percent of survivors do not report the incident. Claims are not treated seriously and the credibility of the victim is continually called into question. Rape cases are usually handled by men, as women are considered “too sympathetic” for the task.
It doesn’t help that the system for accountability is riddled with commanders preferring to sweep incidents “under the rug.” This is borne out by the data that “33 percent of female soldiers didn’t report their rape because the person they would be reporting to was a friend of the rapist, while 25 percent of female soldiers didn’t report their rape because the person to report to was the rapist.”