Sundance, The Invisible War, Mary J. Blige and Compassion

Talking with Mary J. Blige

A very tired me (right) talks with Mary J. Blige the night of the Sundance premier of the documentary The Invisible War. | Photo by Matt Claussen

After the Sundance screening of the incredibly powerful documentary The Invisible War, Mary J. Blige gave an interview where she talked candidly about being abandoned by her father and being sexually abused in her childhood, and how she’s worked at healing.

Mary J.’s song “Need Someone” plays over the documentary’s closing credits as they scroll over photo after photo of soldiers who have suffered military sexual trauma. It packs an emotional wallop at the end of a film that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. Mary J. has also announced plans to write an original song for the film.

I talked to her afterward–I was at the premier because I’m in the film talking about what I learned as a journalist reporting on military sexual trauma–and I found her to be an amazing woman. I have huge respect for her.

She told me that she has forgiven her father, a Vietnam vet, for leaving his family, and that after years of estrangement they now stay in touch.

“If you hang on to that anger,” she said, “it’s poison-like drinking Draino.”

I’m always heartened, and humbled, when I encounter people like her.  Those beliefs of compassion and forgiveness are threaded throughout Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, as demonstrated by some of the inspirational people in the book.

Hate gets you nowhere. Compassion and forgiveness heal. People who join together for a worthy cause can accomplish great things, which The Invisible War has already shown–there is now legislation pending to correct a flawed military justice system regarding sexual assaults.

And finally, one person’s caring can make a difference. Thanks for the reminder, Mary J. I’m really looking forward to your song.

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