Last night CBC’s documentary series The Passionate Eye aired director Kirby Dick‘s critically acclaimed film The Invisible War which chronicles the prevalence of sexual assault in the United States military. It premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the U.S. Documentary Audience Award, and the film is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards.
As I was going to bed last night I happened to begin watching the film at 11pm and even though I was dead tired I had to stay up until the very end — it is that compelling. I was shocked to learn that in 2010, a total of at least 108,121 women and men in the U.S. military screened positive for military sexual trauma, and 68,379 had at least one Veterans Health Administration outpatient visit for related conditions. Also in 2010, The Department of Defense processed reports of 3,198 new assaults but estimated the actual number of assaults to be closer to 19,000. However, these reports only resulted in convictions against 244 perpetrators. Listening to these victims’ stories made it clear to me how enduring rape in the military is not only traumatizing in its own right, but also by the fact that the officials that these victims need to report to in order to prosecute the rapist not only have no legal experience, they also tend to deny the victim their due justice by ignoring the case.
It is an incredibly powerful film, and within days of watching it several months ago, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta took immediate action by fixing the chain of command that military rape victims have to go through to report such incidents by no longer forcing victims to have to go directly to their supervisor. If you life in Canada you can stream the doc in full by CLICKING HERE, and if you live elsewhere be sure to watch it by CLICKING HERE. You can also visit the film’s website at InvisibleWarMovie.com.