Tag Archives: military sexual assault

Right Now: Tell Congress to Do the Right Thing by Military Sexual Assault Survivors and Pass the Military Justice Improvement Act

Do you want to help survivors of military sexual assault? Then take a moment to read this, and then click on the link to contact your local representative in Congress and tell them to vote for the Military Justice Improvement Act.

Few people want to get involved regarding the issue of rape. That’s one of the reasons why it’s such an ongoing crisis in our country–it’s got crippling stigma attached to it, and shame, and victim-blaming. Nowhere is that more pronounced than in our military.

invisible warI’m on the email list for director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering, the creators of the outstanding documentary, “The Invisible War,” a film about the crisis of sexual assaults within the U.S. military. I’m interviewed in the film because of my work covering the issue, primarily the series I coauthored at the Denver Post called “Betrayal in the Ranks.”

Right now, the Invisible War team is sending out this call for action. Please read it, and please respond. If you visit this website, it means on some level you care about this issue. So please take the time to do something about it.


From Kirby and Amy:

It’s been a busy few weeks here in our Los Angeles office, in Washington, and across the country when it comes to sexual assault. As we watch the conversation unfold and expand in the news, we know there is so much more to do to make sure survivors everywhere get the justice they deserve.

Let’s start with Washington, DC. This week the Pentagon released their annual survey on sexual assault. The report was damning.

It found:

  • Less than 3 of 10 service members have enough trust in the system to report a crime.
  • Two-thirds of those who did report an assault say they faced some form of retaliation, and
  • The number of service members willing to put their name on a report decreased when compared to last year.

This is unacceptable and exactly why Congress must pass the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) and fix this broken system.

Our men and women in uniform deserve better. They deserve justice. And this week Congress has a chance to see that they get it. Before the end of the week the Senate will vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This gives them another opportunity to do the right thing and pass the MJIA. Take a minute now and send Congress a message that it’s past time to deliver justice for military sexual assault survivors.

CLICK HERE and tell Congress to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act today.


But it’s not just the military, or Congress, that has work to do.

When we toured the country to screen THE INVISIBLE WAR we visited dozens of college campuses and met with thousands of students and began hearing stories from survivors of campus sexual assault. Like the stories that inspired us to make THE INVISIBLE WAR, their stories were powerful, poignant and we realized, all too common. We knew we had to take action.

So we began work on another film, this time to shine a light on the epidemic of campus assault. We’re honored so many courageous survivors and advocates have trusted us to bring their stories into the light, and we are thrilled to share that our new film, THE HUNTING GROUND, is premiering next month at the Sundance Film Festival.

The #NotInvisible community has been an incredible source of support for survivors of sexual assault — in the military and beyond. We hope that THE HUNTING GROUND will create a space for a new community to come together. And we hope you’ll be a part of that conversation too.

Together, we can help ensure that no survivor –- whether a service member or a student, has to stand alone. Together, we are #NotInvisible.

Thank you for all you do,
Amy and Kirby


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Rape is not a side effect of hormones

Note from Amy: In the following, Brent Brents is referring to a remark made in June by U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss where he said that hormones may be a factor in military sexual assaults.

Chambliss, R-Georgia, was addressing military officials when he said, “The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22-23. Gee whiz — the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.”

The remark prompted Brents, who is serving 1,500  years on charges that include sexual assault, to write the following:

Saxby Chambliss your a bafoon. To blame anything other than choice is purely Ludicris. Rape is not a side effect of hormones. Young soldiers, old soldiers, makes no difference, Hormones do affect all of us in some ways sexualy. Rape is Not one of those.

That’s as crude and plainly stoopid as someone saying well they wanted it, or they liked it. What the hell were you thinking. Basicaly with your hormones statement, you’ve emotionally attacked those victims who have been raped in the military. And made rape sound like a right of passage.

When i watched you on C-Span make that completely uneducated and stoopid statement, I was shocked. Yes me of all people was shocked. Do I have the right to lash out at you probably not. But hey we can chalk it up to my hormones being unbalanced.

Brent Brents 7-22-13

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Help Stop Rape in the Military: Call Your Senators!

Note from Amy: The following is from the filmmakers of “The Invisible War,” the searing documentary about military sexual assault. Please read it and then click on the link to find the phone number of your senator–and call to tell them they need to support legislation to help end this crisis of rape in the military:

It’s come to light that not one, but two, officers in charge of sexual assault prevention in the military have themselves been accused of sexual assault. These are the very people who are meant to help ensure our servicemen and women are safe from the very crimes they have allegedly perpetrated.

Bill Briggs, an NBC News contributor, summed it up pretty well:

“The U.S. military seems increasingly incapable of policing itself or ridding its ranks of sexual predators…”

If you’re ready to move forward, call your Senators now and ask that they support legislation to move the decision to prosecute out of the chain of command.

Ask them to co-sponsor the Military Justice Improvement Act – the bicameral legislation introduced this morning by Senators Gillibrand, Boxer, Collins, Johanns, Blumenthal, Begich, Coons, Franken, Hirono, Mikulski, Shaheen and others.

That NBC news clip sums up exactly what our community has been arguing for over a year now. You know the saying… ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ Well, we’re not calling the military’s leadership insane, but there’s some pretty damning evidence out there.

The Pentagon needs an intervention. Enter the US Senate. With champions like Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer, Richard Blumenthal, Mark Begich, Susan Collins, Mike Johanns, Al Franken, Chris Coons, Mazie Hirono, Barbara Mikulski, and Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, Dan Benishek, Richard Hanna, and Kyrsten Sinema banding together, today there’s a bill before Congress that CAN and WILL help to break the cycle.

This new bill has the power not only to break the cycle of military sexual assault and end years of sweeping this issue (and its survivors) under the rug – it also creates serious accountability and protects future service members from suffering retribution from their commanding officers.

You can help make this bill into law. Call your Senator today and tell them to join the fight and sponsor this bill to take this out of the chain of command, once and for all.

Every 21 minutes another service member is assaulted. Let’s make sure they see the justice they’ve earned.

Thank you for making our fight #NotInvisible,

Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick


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Because Thoroughly Tackling the Topic of Military Sexual Assault is No Small Feat: The Invisible War is Nominated for an Oscar

If you had told me ten years ago that rape in the U.S. military would become a mainstream topic, I’d have laughed at you.

Decade after decade, after each sexual assault scandal such as Tailhook or the Air Force Academy, politicians would trumpet their outrage and military officials would swear they’d muster reform, like a hardened criminal making desperate, insincere promises to a parole board.

In 2003, while Miles Moffeit and I were researching for,  “Betrayal in the Ranks,” our three-part series about military sexual assault and domestic violence, reporters in Kentucky called us with a cautionary tale of how their publisher pulled a similar story of theirs, axing it because the U.S. had invaded Iraq and it seemed unpatriotic to call the military to task.

Thankfully, that love affair is over.

invisible warLast January, a film premiered at Sundance called “The Invisible War.” It tackled the crisis of sexual assaults within the U.S. military and dissected it with a painstaking, surgical attention to detail.

The filmmakers invited me to attend the premier because I’m interviewed in the film about my work covering the issue of military sexual assault, primarily the series I coauthored with Miles called “Betrayal in the Ranks.”

Afterward, I listened to all the talk from the politicians and the military officials, inwardly rolled my eyes, and waited for the apathy to once again roll in.

Well, halleluiah, my cynicism has been smacked down.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta viewed the film on April 14, 2012.  Two days later, Panetta ordered that all military sexual assault cases were to be handled by senior officers, ostensibly taking such cases away from potentially biased commanders who wouldn’t want the notoriety or disruption of a sexual assault investigation in their own unit.

Then over the summer, the Marines put together a new protocol for combating sexual assault. And just this month, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for this fiscal year. This time, it included reforms aimed at the issue of military sexual assault, including policies to prevent retaliation against those who report.

Meanwhile, the public and the media have flung themselves fully into the fray, backing “The Invisible War” with enthusiastic reviews and using social media to propel the issue forward.

Now “The Invisible War” has oh so deservedly been nominated for an Oscar.  As a result, I’m heartened that a whole new audience will now pay attention–and that someday, soldiering in the U.S. will no longer be associated with rape.

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