By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood June 22, 2012 at 11:30AM
There are some movies that just gut you. They just hit you hard and twist until you are a spent rag ready to get up and fight against all the injustices that have just been witnessed.
The Invisible War is one of those films.
It's a film that you probably need to see more than once to truly understand all the atrocities but it also so intense that seeing it twice just might wreck you. The film directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering tells the story of women who have been raped as members of the military. Their stories are devastating. Like Kori who had her jaw broken by her attacker and Hannah who was from a military family raped before she ever had consensual sex.
While the stories of what happened to them are horrific what is equally as horrific is that they were raped again by a system that refuses to hold the soldiers accountable for their actions and refuses to make an attempt to try and make these women whole again (or as close to whole as possible after their experiences.) It is a movie where you scream in anger that people who have dedicated themselves to fighting for our country feel so alone that they want to kill themselves. It is a movie that shows how much change needs to be made in an antiquated system where women are second class citizens. The military is so far behind in dealing with women that they are just getting around to acknowledging the fact that women have been fighting on the front lines for the better part of the last decade.
What is so frustrating watching the movie as a lay person who could not even imagine joining the military is that these women are stuck in a system that gives every benefit of the doubt to the attacker. Many scars of rape are invisible but even the ones that are fully visible like Kori's nonstop pain in her broken jaw from being slammed down by her rapist are not taken seriously. The Veterans Administration refuses to pay for her treatment because she didn't stay in the Coast Guard long enough. But the reason she didn't stay in was because she was raped and in pain and could no longer serve. So she came home much worse off than when she left. And that story can be said for many of our soldiers coming home -- even those who haven't been traumatized.
Movies like this make me hate our politicians. I don't see how they can sleep at night when these things are going on and can be addressed. Sure, it will cost money but it seems we find money to pay for things all the time and these women need to get their lives back. Kori needs a day without pain.
The good news is that this film has made a difference. General Mary Kay Hertog, the head of Department of Defense's Director of the Sexual Assault and Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) has been removed. If I saw that woman on the street I would go and kick her in the shins. She could have helped. The woman came off as the biggest idiot in the movie. Toeing the line and denying what these women are going through just doesn't cut it. People don't make this shit up. It is so much work to fake living in pain every day. It is so much work to think about suicide every day. People just don't fake this.
These stories revels the dirty underbelly of war. That there is a war going on against our soldiers by our soldiers. These guys get away with it because the system let's them. It must change. You can be a part of making this change happen. Click here for further information.
The film opens today in NY, SF, LA, DC and then will roll out to further cities throughout the summer.