Victims of rape get apathy and sometimes worse while in the military
“Every four hours a sexual assault or rape is reported in the United States Armed Forces.” – The Military Rape Crisis Center
Sexual attacks in the military are a growing problem. In 2011, reports of this abuse varied widely, anywhere from 3,000 incidents to as many as 19,000 confirmed by the Department of Defense. No matter what statistics are considered accurate, as of late, a number of injured parties have come forward with claims of harassment, being ignored or receiving a questionable psychiatric diagnosis.
The issue has reached such proportions the troubling topic was featured in “The Invisible War,” a poignant documentary which debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In addition, CNN News recently aired a special about the disturbing trend.
One person’s story
Patriotic, selfless and friendly is the best way to describe Ohioan Kori Cioca before she enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. Cioca had always enjoyed being with others and often thought of fulfilling her lifelong goal of serving her country. When the time came, Cioca was proud to join a group whom she thought held similar feelings. Her way of thinking changed in 2005 due to one particular superior officer.
That’s when Cioca charges the mistreatment began. According to change.org, one of the places her story has been told, Cioca states about her supervisor:
“From the moment I came under his charge, he singled me out for abuse and harassment. My appeals to his superiors fell on deaf ears, and one night he entered my room, hit me so hard he dislocated my jaw, and then raped me. When I stumbled out from my bunkroom to report the incident, I was told by my commander (a close friend of my assailant) that I was a liar and a ‘disrespectful non-rate’.”
Only after receiving assorted threats from other higher ranking Coast Guardsmen was Cioca finally able to forge ahead and convince military authorities of her story. Ultimately, her attacker paid a small fine and lost thirty days of leave. Not much of a penalty.
Since then, Cioca and other veterans have joined a federal class action lawsuit seeking to change the way sexual abuse is investigated in the U.S. Armed Forces. Though victims of sexual abuse, they have divulged their identities in an effort to make a difference beyond themselves.
While not unique, Cioca’s military tale is exposed in the picture, “The Invisible War.”
First released in January 2012 at Sundance, “The Invisible War,” directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering, reveals a darker side of war that’s rarely ever talked about; that being, the hurdles that military rape victims must endure in their quest for justice. The movie’s website offers a brief description of the plot:
“Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of several young women, the film reveals the systemic cover up of the crimes against them and follows their struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.”
At the moment, this insidious secret is not just movie material.
The CNN spotlight
On April 14, 2012, CNN published, “Rape victims say military labels them ‘crazy’,” by David S. Martin, which disclosed despicable treatment of women in different branches of service.
An investigation by CNN discovered female patients who asserted rape allegations were all ascribed a similar psychiatric diagnosis, each rendered by the armed services staff that had treated them. Personality Disorder was the conclusion.
The movie “The Invisible War” made a similar pattern known, which is evidenced online:
“The phrase Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the official term for the psychological trauma that may result from military rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Many experts consider the term a euphemism and prefer to call these crimes and violations what they are – rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.”
While members of our armed forces are charged with protecting others from harm, who’s looking after the victims of military rape?