2014 Emmy Award — Outstanding Investigative Journalism – Long Form; 2013 Academy Award Nomination — Best Documentary Feature; 2013 George Foster Peabody Award.
Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of rape victims, The Invisible War exposes the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, chronicling the women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. It also features hard-hitting interviews with high- ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long-hidden history, and what can be done to bring about much-needed change.
At the core of the film are interviews with the rape survivors themselves — people like Kori Cioca, who was beaten and raped by her supervisor in the U.S. Coast Guard; Ariana Klay, a Marine who served in Iraq before being raped by a senior officer and his friend, then threatened with death; and Trina McDonald who was drugged and raped repeatedly by military policemen on her remote Naval station in Adak, Alaska. And it isn’t just women; according to one study's estimate, one percent of men in the military — nearly 20,000 men — were sexually assaulted in 2009.
And while rape victims in the civilian world can turn to a police force and judicial system for help and justice, rape victims in the military must turn to their commanders — a move that is all too often met with foot-dragging at best, and reprisals at worst. Many rape victims find themselves forced to choose between speaking up and keeping their careers. Little wonder that only 8 percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted.
Since The Invisible War premiered at Sundance, the film has been circulating through the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Obama administration. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta watched The Invisible War on April 14, 2012. Two days later, he directed military commanders to hand over all sexual assault investigations to a higher-ranking colonel. At the same time, Panetta announced that each branch of the armed forces would establish a Special Victims Unit.
The Obstacles to Justice for Military Rape Victims: The domain of the Feres doctrine has stretched to prevent just about anyone from suing the military, including victims of rape, effectively blocking Service members from civil courts and finding justice.
20% of active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted while serving! What do you think of the fact that rape is an occupational hazard of military service, as it was recently ruled to be? Would you think twice if you were considering entering the military, especially as a woman? If you’re in the military, have you known anyone involved in a sexual assault? How was it handled?
- Kirby DickProducer/Director
- Amy ZieringProducer