Nominated for an Academy Award and critically acclaimed The Invisible War exposes the horrific culture of sexual violence prevalent in the United States Armed Forces. Director Kirby Dick has collated the stories of numerous women and notably men also to reveal what is a disgusting epidemic.
It was a story that really upset both me, my partner and most of those around us. With victims being denied support, being denied medical compensation after their rapists had broken and shattered bones and in some cases even being charged themselves for adultery I was left pretty shell shocked.
It became swiftly evident that rape is not just accepted in the US Army, it is institutionalised with sexual violence prevention efforts taking the form of – always have a buddy with you. When 17 victims took the Defence corp to court, the court ruled that sexual violence was an occupational hazard of being in the army. This is alongside victims regaling stories of how their complaints were handled by their superiors – one woman was told that it was her own fault for walking down a hallway of drunk men.
I don’t think that that is good enough. Sexual violence of any kind is not okay but it is also even worse to think that it should be expected. Because that’s what the buddy system is suggesting. It’s wound up with this atmosphere of entitlement and ownership of other people. And that is disgusting. We should be expecting more of our fellow humans than that. It should be clear that harming another human being like that is never okay and will never pass.
But until that happens, the only thing that we can do is spread awareness and hopefully some people – both predators and those in charge alike will listen. One particularly gross aspect of this story is the fact that it’s set in the United States. A country where a person’s personal liberty is supposedly upheld and treasured. A country where you would usually have the right to sue – but of course the Army is protected from that.
It’s awful to watch because the victims are people who genuinely believe in their country and want to serve it. They believed in the American dream and that serving their country would be honourable. That was until they had that dream brutally and physically shattered.
There is still one screening of The Invisible War left to go and I would urge anyone and everyone to go and see it. It’s on tomorrow at Q Theatre at 2:45 pm. If you can’t make it to the screening then the documentary is also available in New Zealand and internationally on iTunes here.
Yes it is gruelling. Yes it will probably make you cry. But it is also one of the most important things I’ve seen in a while.