Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Arts & Culture: In one of the final chapters of his book To Selena, With Love (out March 6), Selena's widower Chris Perez mentions that Abraham Quintanilla, his former father-in-law, once... By Enrique Lopetegui 3/7/2012
Big Hops Gastropub

Big Hops Gastropub

Food & Drink: On a recent Sunday, my wife and I drove up 281 and into the heart of San Antonio’s ever-expanding Northside suburbs to try out... By Lance Higdon 8/20/2014
Voters will decide who replaces Mike Villarreal at the Capitol

Voters will decide who replaces Mike Villarreal at the Capitol

News: Earlier this month, mayoral front-runner Mike Villarreal clarified that he would not resign from his House District 123 seat before the November 4... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta 8/20/2014
15 Types of Commonly Encountered College Students

15 Types of Commonly Encountered College Students

College Issue 2014: Usually a freshman, this student tries to absorb everything the teacher says and immediately after class rushes to... By Alex Deleon 8/18/2014

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Arts & Culture

'The Invisible War': will a win at the Oscars change anything for raped women in the military?

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Kori Cioca (U.S. Coast Guard) never leaves home without these two. The V.A. never covered surgery for her jaw, which was broken during her rape.

Related stories

Of this year's Oscar-nominated films, none is more relevant to Military City, USA than Kirby Dick's The Invisible War. With rigor and empathy, this documentary (now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix) exposes the startling scope of sexual assault throughout the United States Armed Forces.

The Invisible War is groundbreaking in the mass of evidence it gathers and presents, making the case that sexual assault in the military is not an isolated matter of a scandal every 10 years or so, but an ongoing epidemic. The formidable statistics that punctuate this film are all from U.S. government reports. According to the Department of Defense, 20 percent of female soldiers, or one in five, are sexually assaulted. A Navy study found that 15 percent of incoming recruits attempted or committed rape before entering the military. As Brigadier General Loree Sutton, M.D., U.S. Army (Retired) explains, "Particularly for a savvy perpetrator … a relatively closed system, like the military … becomes a prime target-rich environment for a predator."

The film is a direct investigative documentary, similar in form to 2010 Oscar winner doc Inside Job. A model of long-form journalism, it is thick with interviews, data, and historical context. With such reach and access, astounding secrets and conflicts of interest are revealed. There are stark interviews with journalists and advocates, active and retired military officials, members of the DOD and the military justice system.

Dick's muckraking is deftly balanced by producer Amy Ziering's empathic relationships with the survivors, women and men, who share their stories. We see how the violations these soldiers endured led to further trauma when they reported the assaults. Testimony after testimony illustrates that, as brutal as the assault was for the victim, the professional retaliation they endured was worse. In one of the final sequences of the film, each of the survivors sorrowfully admits that they would not recommend military service for women. As it stands now, rape in the military is ruled "an incidence of service," an occupational hazard.

Yet, this is not an anti-military film. The personal testimonies come from veterans who loved and excelled in their jobs serving the military before their attack. The film opens with a brief history of women in the military, a fantastic montage of archive footage full of exuberant pride.

The Invisible War premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award. Since then, the film has been used in military training and policy discussions. After seeing the film, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (who last week announced women will officially be allowed to serve in combat) revised policies on how sexual assault cases are prosecuted, and steps have been made to further address the issue in the military. A confidant from the Pentagon told Dick that the investigation of the Lackland Basic Training sex scandal would not have been as vigorous if not for the influence of the film.

The film is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, but that distinction pales in light of the substantial impact that the film has already achieved and the changes it will continue to compel.

The Invisible War

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Writ. and dir. Kirby Dick; feat. Helen Benedict, Anu Bhagwati, Susan Burke. (not rated)

Recently in Arts & Culture
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus