Documentary sheds light on Invisible War
To start off Women’s History Month, “The Invisible War,” a documentary on rape and sexual harassment in the military, was shown in the University Center Houston Room on Wednesday.
Put together by the Veteran’s Services Office, the Women’s Resource Center and the Student Feminist Organization, breakfast was offered as students and faculty learned about the problems the military are facing.
“The movie was emotionally powerful and persuasive and obviously brought up some important legislative issues,” said psychology and anthropology senior Jessica Broom.
The documentary tells the stories of a of women and one man who had undergone sexual trauma. When the movie was over, a panel that served in the military was set up so the audience could interact with it and ask questions.
Business sophomore and army veteran Robert Darigo, had worked with hundreds of military women in Walter Reed Army Medical Center for two years.
“These documentaries are made to get emotions out of people,” Darigo said.
The documentary revealed that Congress responds to the women’s case by ruling rape to be “an occupational hazard” of serving.
Broom said while rape is an occupational hazard in a hostile environment when serving in the field, it is necessary to have no tolerance for it within the military itself.
“I got out in 2005, and it seems to be getting better,” said Michael Huebner, army veteran panelist. “I think there is a lot of work to be done.”
The documentary reveals that more than 20 percent of women in the military report sexual assault or rape while serving, and retired TSgt. Yvonne Chapman was a survivor on the panel and pointed out that sometimes it’s “easier” for women to just not report because of the stigma that comes with that accusation.
Accusations of rape could mean the end of a woman’s career if the soldier accused was “popular” or a “favorite.”
“I’m speechless that the courts would rule that way,” said SGT Lawren Bradberry, who is serving in the Army Reserve, about the documentary’s final statement.
Bradberry sat on the panel to give her insight on her experiences with sexual assault in the military and how to go about reporting the harassment.
“The military needs a real change from the top,” said a military member of the audience who did not want her name published. “Punishment and lack thereof allows people who are going to assault see that the penalty isn’t that great.”
“This program gave us the chance to work with the Veteran’s Services Office on a vital project that concerns both offices,” said Beverly McPhail, director of the Women’s Resource Center.