Movie Review: “The Invisible War”
2012, Amy Ziering
Not Rated (but if Teen Voices were to rate it, we would say it should be rated R because the material is graphic and disturbing, so not suitable for younger audiences)
Reviewed by Nisreen Galloway, 19
Many of the women and men who serve this country have been undergoing a largely unpublicized battle, until now. The Invisible War is a documentary that focuses on the untold story of rape within the U.S. military, and the systemic layers of denial, cover up, and victim blaming that typically happens when a survivor is brave enough to report it. Director Kirby Dick follows eight women and one man as they share their stories of sexual abuse while serving in various branches of the military including the U.S. Navy, Marines, Army, and Coast Guard. As the stories unfold, the film reveals the enormous scale of these attacks and showcases the way the military system protects the perpetrators and revictimizes or ignores the violated, resulting in enormous personal psychological, financial, and health struggles. The victims reveal incredible perseverance and strength as they continue to seek justice, many of them five or more years after their attack. But the cumulative toll this process takes on the individual victims and their families is evident.
The documentary delves into the history of sexual assault crimes and the minimal changes in laws that have allowed these multi-layered patterns of abuse to continue, particularly within the military. For many of these victims, their attacker was someone of higher rank who not only left them feeling powerless in the moment, but left them few options for places where they could turn for support in their camp. All of the veterans in the film are still suffering from the attacks—both physically and emotionally. Some attempted suicide; many are suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and most are still suffering from physical damage. Kori Cioca, one of the most profiled women in the film, is still trying to get the military to respond to her claim so she can afford surgery for the broken jaw she received from her attacker seven years ago. In the meantime, she eats only soft food, suffers constant, debilitating pain, and a sense of betrayal and fear that even an incredibly supportive husband can barely alleviate.
Despite the emotional weight of this documentary, its story is important. The U.S. military personnel, psychiatrists, and attorneys featured in this documentary offer a well-rounded insight into the invisible war that these veterans are battling within themselves and the military. As a viewer, the release of this film and the public sharing of the participants’ stories gives you the opportunity to go beyond just sympathizing with the victims. The film educates you about the legal action—and inaction—taking place in both the United States government and the United States military. It also invites you to join and support the civil cases and petitions that are working to change the way the U.S. military handles these types of cases. This movie tells an important story of the strength in these individuals to not only survive, but fight to make sure that others in the military don’t go through the same unnecessary horror.
For more information, visit: http://invisiblewarmovie.com/
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