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The Many Sacrifices of War

“The Invisible War,” a documentary about violence and sexual assault in the US Armed Forces, was shown at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art on Nov. 3. Over the past decade, rape and sexual violence awareness have become more prevalent in today’s society, which allowed this movie to make an impact through the stories of men and women of the armed forces who have experienced such things. This documentary was for USU’s Perspectives Club and the Center for Women and Gender’s monthly documentary series.

“The documentary is about rape inside the army, which is not something heavily talked about,” said Jerra Fowers, a member of the Perspectives Club. “I think this documentary is definitely an eye opener.”

Throughout the film, several women were interviewed about their experiences during their service and then personally told their stories of sexual assault through the tears and pain that still haunts them today.

Kori Cioca, a retired seaman from Ohio, told her story of being hit across the face, pushed against a wall, and raped by one of her senior officers. Not only was she emotionally and mentally traumatized, but physical repercussions came later as well. Her jaw was dislocated from being hit, which later caused nerve damage. She has been forced to a life of soft foods and staying inside during cold weather because of how her body reacts to the temperatures as well as traveling and visiting doctors often.

“With doctors’ appointments, I come to everyone just in case she gets worked up,” said Rob McDonald, Cioca’s husband. “She’s uneasy around men already, so I have my phone on me and tell her to have a text message ready if she needs to get out of there.”

Cioca was only one of many cases talked about throughout the film. Trina from Alaska and Hannah from Kentucky both told their horrific stories of being taken advantage of, beaten, and penalized for speaking up about the assault they went through. Stories of suicide attempts were told, as well as those of court cases that were opened and quickly closed after the report of the assault so as to not interrupt the military ways.

Reports have shown that 20 percent of female veterans have been raped. Due to the many repercussions, false accusations, and bite back from the military, more than half of assaults go unreported. Studies estimate that more than half a million women have been sexually assaulted in the armed forces; however, that number is not solid because of the many unreported cases.

Typically, society paints rape and sexual assault as a problem and action against women, but studies show that almost 1 in every 33 men experience rape as well.

The film crew interviewed several men who experienced sexual assault throughout their time while serving in the military. Retired serviceman, Michael, told the story of being held down and raped by three officers when he first entered his service. His emotional journey of staying silent for 30 years and then finally telling his wife, truly showed the emotional toll and hurt that one experiences going through such a trial.

November is a month dedicated to the Armed Forces due to the celebration of Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11. It is a month where Americans have the opportunity to celebrate and thank those that have fought valiantly for our country. Let us remember this Veteran’s Day to remember those that gave up much more than time for our country.

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