#NotInvisible

I don’t think I’ve ever made the title of a post on here into a hashtag, but in this case, it’s necessary. It’s a tiny, almost-but-not-quite insignificant thing I can do, so I’m doing it.

The Invisible War is mandatory viewing, both for people who crave well-done documentaries and for people who are hopelessly mis- or under-informed about the innerworkings of our military. I consider myself definitely in the latter category, and sometimes in the former, and while I obviously can’t say that I enjoyed this film, I’m incredibly glad that I watched it.

There’s a giant, abominable, ugly, silent problem in the military, and The Invisible War is doing its part to, at the very least, terminate the silence. There are a ton of women (and a not-insignificant number of men) who have been raped while serving, and the system is structured as such that they can’t report the abuse because (1) they report to their attacker (2) they report to someone who wouldn’t believe them anyway (3) they report to someone who will eventually get stuck behind red tape/a wall/insert other “stoppage” metaphor here. It’s a vicious, brutal cycle, and the mental and physical harm that’s come of it has resulted in deaths, delayed medical treatment, life-altering illnesses and disabilities, and basically no punishment for the attackers.

Watching this movie, hearing the stories of people like Kori Cioca and Hannah Sewell, being confronted with something real and truly invisible, I felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Thankfulness, too, for never having to deal with a situation this horrifying myself. I’ve never had a particularly strong connection to the armed forces — of course, I support them and respect them and am thankful for their service — and yet this movie scooped me up and made me feel like I was part of a different army, their army. The united front against sexual assault, not just in the military, but everywhere. Those who experience this trauma shouldn’t have to live the way they do, and they shouldn’t defer to inaction because of the stigma or because of a rigged system. A few Powers That Be have listened, like my homeboy Leon Panetta, but the war is far from won — or from being visible.

The Invisible War anticipates how you’ll feel after you watch, and it directs you to a petition. I’m going to do the same. If you sign it, you’re telling congress that Uniform Code of Military Justice needs to be amended, and that the prosecution of sexual assaulters needs to occur outside of the chain of command.

Sign it.

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