"The Invisible War" had its first Long Island screening as part of the Port Jefferson Documentary Series at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson on Oct. 15, bringing awareness to the plight of U.S. servicewomen who have suffered from sexual abuse while in the military.
The emotional, evocative journey taken by the audience began as we listened to several military women describing, with pride the reason they joined the military. As countless tales of sexual abuse were recounted, we witnessed the anguish and pain these women went through, first at the hands of their assailants and then at their frustration as they tried to report these sexual crimes to their commanding officers, only to be dismissed and threatened with reprisals.
The ensuing PTSD and difficulties the women endured in civilian life when they came home were dismaying and painful to watch.
The surprise of the film which caused us to audibly gasp came when we learned that after these women banded together to file a lawsuit and hopefully reap justice, the suit was dismissed, citing that "rape is an occupational hazard of military service"
After the screening, Director, Kirby Dick answered some questions, namely, "What can be done to assure that women are protected and have proper legal recourse when they are sexually attacked in the military?"
His response was that these cases have to be "taken out of the chain of military command" and that "changes must be made from the top of the command, starting from the President and Secretary of Defense, and down to the bottom."
There was a former WAC in the audience who told a story of her friend in the military who had been sexually abused when they served together. She thanked Mr. Dick for making this movie.
"It was a story that had to be told," she said.
The good news that Mr. Dick shared was that someone at Sundance who saw the movie offered to help treat one ex-Coast Guard cadet who suffered injuries to her jaw during her attack and could not get the VA’s help.
This documentary served our community by bringing to us awareness of this subject matter with the hope of affecting positive change. Our goals at the Port Jefferson Documentary Series are to screen new, critically acclaimed, important stories, and "The Invisible War" did just that.