When he kissed her and then had sex with her, she complied because she felt she had no choice, she said.Those last words are the testimony of a female airman who kept silent about her alleged rape for fear of reprisal.
"What else was I supposed to do in that situation?" she asked.
What else was she supposed to do in that situation?
Before seeing The Invisible War, my husband had an easy answer to her question:
- She shouldn't have followed the first illegal order - leaving her room after hours.
- Once she followed the first illegal order, she should have should have said NO to the following illegal requests.
- Once she was raped, she should have reported it.
When we answer this young airman's question, we really need to do it in context. Her assault took place at Lackland AFB during basic training. The first six weeks of training are spent learning how to be a Warrior. Yes, with a capital W. Welcome to today's Air Force at War.
This Warrior Training culminates in Week 6, affectionately called The Beast:
Trainers have worked hard up to this point to take trainees and "Remove them from their comfort zone," to strip them to the bone and then show them what they can achieve together as a unit. You don't make decisions based on what is best for YOU. You makes decisions based on what is best for your unit.
It isn't until Week 7 of the 8-week training that they even discuss Sexual Assault Prevention and Reporting. They wait to have the conversation about ethics until after they've pushed these kids to their utmost limits.
It should come as no surprise that the trainers who are under investigation waited until the last weeks of training to sexually assault their victims.
After seeing The Invisible War, my husband would be honest enough to say that he isn't sure how to answer that young airman's question. He does know that she never should have been placed in this situation in the first place:
Defense attorneys have emphasized that the men did not threaten the women that night. The women never told them no, and never told them to stop.
But the trainees said that saying no was not an option. The consequences seemed unfathomable.
"I really truly don't know what they would've done," one of the women said. "And that's more terrifying than knowing what someone is going to do."
Let's demand the Obama Administration to show this film to all potential commanders as well as to all trainers of our military recruits. Let's give them the complete story about sexual assault in the military and help more men and women like my husband understand that after sexual assault, there isn't always a right answer, there is just the right thing to do: