Forget the creepy guys in trench coats—the Penn State University and the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals remind us that it’s harder than you might imagine identifying a rapist and sex offender within an institutional cathedral. Put that perpetrator in military uniform or clerical apparel and we want to deny it is even possible. Be it renegades, robes or uniforms, rape is the betrayal of trust manifest.
US servicewomen are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a solider than they are likely to be killed in the line of fire. The new battlefield is the barracks.
The “The Invisible War”, a documentary film premiering at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival is an investigative and enraging emotional analysis of the epidemic of rape and sexual assault within the U.S. military. If the term “epidemic” seems strident or alarmist, the facts chillingly reveal that sexual assault and rape are prevalent and that the military justice system presently in place is an enabler that shockingly perpetuates the crime. It is not an abberration. The closed military justice system is a target rich environment for a sexual predator.
The 2010 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military indicates that 3,158 cases were officially reported. A Department of Defense survey of active duty members revealed that only 13.5% of sexual assaults within the services were reported. The Pentagon itself estimates that more than 19,000 incidents of sexual assault actually occurred in 2010, not the 3,158 officially reported.