The Invisible War

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The Invisible War contains interviews of rape victims regarding the issue of sexual assault in the United States military. This inspiring documentary reveals one of the nation’s best kept secrets: the severity and magnitude of sex crimes committed throughout the U.S. Armed Forces. The film also discusses the process of reporting sex crimes in the military and the obstacles service members face when reporting a sex crime. The following summarizes the movie The Invisible War and discusses how the information provided throughout the film can help when counseling other veterans.

The Invisible War is a documentary on the rape epidemic within the United States military. The film contains several interviews with veterans from different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, who all discuss the events surrounding their sexual assault. These veterans shared similar difficulties, such as reprisals against survivors, as well as other barriers to reporting sex crimes in the military. The film also provided interviews with mental health professionals, journalists, advocates, and Department of Defense officials. These individuals gave further insight into the problem of sexual assault throughout the United States military and the struggles victim face (Dick & Ziering, 2012).

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The film highlighted some of the most predominate sexual assault incidents in the United States military in order to show how the Department of Defense has failed to address the sexual assault issue in the military. Past incidents, such as the 2003 Air Force Academy scandal, the 1996 Army Aberdeen scandal, and the 1991 Navy Tailhook scandal, were all discussed in order to illustrate the empty promises made by the military in order to reduce the high rates of sexual assault. The film also featured Cioca v. Rumsfeld, a civil suit brought on by military rape survivors against the Department of Defense for their failure to address the issue of sexual assault in the military adequately (Dick & Ziering, 2012).

The advocates and survivors that are featured throughout the film all seek change when it comes to how the military addresses incidents of sexual assault. One of the recommendations made by these individuals was to remove prosecution power from unit commanders. Unit commanders can either be friends with the individual in question or they may participate in sex crimes as well. In these situations, allegations of sexual assault can be quickly swept under the rug. This creates problems for the military because the issue is not being addressed, it’s only being further ignored. Furthermore, ignoring the problem does not allow the victims to receive the help they need. Taking prosecution power away from unit commanders would help increase the likelihood of a victim of sexual assault in the military to report the crime (Dick & Ziering, 2012).

The documentary provided a significant amount of information regarding sexual assault in the United States military. Currently, female soldiers in combat zones are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier than by an enemy. In 2011, the Department of Defense estimated that there were almost 30,000 incidents of violent sex crimes throughout the United States military. More than half the victims are females between the ages of 18 to 21. Furthermore, it has been estimated that roughly twenty percent of all activity-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted. However, men are also victims of sex crimes. According to one 2009 study, approximately one percent of males in the military, roughly 20,000 men, were victims of sexual assault (Dick & Ziering, 2012).

The film also provided interviews with rape survivors, such as Kori Cioca, a women who was raped and beaten in the U.S. Coast Guard by her supervisor. Cioca was not the only victim who was interviewed throughout the film. Several other women told their survivor stories from their military experiences. One of the most interesting aspects of these survivors’ stories is the lack of voice these victims had. In the military, rape victims must report the incident to their commanders. As mentioned above, unit commanders can be friends of the assailant or could also participate in sex crimes as well, making it easy for reports of sexual assaults to be swept under the rug. Furthermore, victims may be reprimanded for reporting incidents of sexual assault. Several rape victims in the military have to choose between keeping their careers or reporting the crime to the military. As a result, roughly 8 percent of sexual assault cases in the military are prosecuted (Dick & Ziering, 2012).

The Invisible War provided useful information that will help counsel other veterans. The film highlighted the differences between rape victims in the military and civilian rape victims. These differences are extremely important and need to be taken into consideration when working with veterans. In the civilian world, rape victims are able to report the crime to local law enforcement, where the assailant is usually charged and arrested. This process is not as easy in the military. Instead of the crime being reported to a specific department, the crime must be reported to the victim’s unit commander. This aspect brings on a plethora of other issues that the victim must deal with. It also can result in the victim not reporting the crime at all. These are all issues that must be dealt with when working with veterans who are victims of sex crimes in the military. Overall, The Invisible War is an inspiring documentary that provides insight and information that will be useful when helping counsel other veterans who are also military rape victims.

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