Invisible War

“The Invisible War,” the thought-provoking, Academy Award-nominated documentary about sexual assault in the armed forces, will be shown at Blackhawk Technical College on Sept. 12 as part of a program sponsored by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA).

Following the 93-minute film, a discussion featuring sexual assault victim Rachel Beauchene will be held with the audience in the BTC Triangle Room (Room 1400A). Beauchene will discuss details of her assault in 2004 as a member of the U.S. Army and how Army authorities responded and did not respond to her filed complaint against a fellow soldier.

Beauchene, who currently is a graduate student in Student Affairs Administration at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, is the executive director of Survivors Empowered Through Art (SETA) and her photography is on display in the Blackhawk library through Sept. 12. SETA’s mission is to raise awareness about sexual assault in and outside the military through art and storytelling.

The film and discussion will follow WCASA’s regional meeting at 11 a.m. The event is free to the public. However, those interested in attending must register with Blackhawk Technical College because of limited seating for the event. To sign up, contact Stephanie Williams at, 608-7575-7702 or sign up online at

“The Invisible War,’’ nominated in 2012 for Best Documentary, is a searing account of the growing issue of sexual assault in the U.S. military and how military authorities will cover up the problem by often flipping blame to those who were assaulted.

“Make no mistake, this is advocacy cinema,’’ wrote Amy Biancolli, a film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s not much effort, on (director Kirby Dick’s) part or anyone else’s, to consider any point of view besides the victims’ and those who love or speak for them. That’s what makes it difficult to watch. And that’s what makes it necessary.’’

Beauchene, who was at Fort Meade, Md., and studying to become a broadcast journalist in the military when assaulted, eventually left the military with a honorable discharge but was considered to have what Army officials told her was a “personality disorder’’ because she eventually reported the assault. Beauchene will speak to the profound personal and social consequences that may come to a member of the military who reports a sexual assault to authorities.

The film notes that then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta viewed the documentary in April 2012 and two days later took the decision to prosecute sexual assaults away from unit commanders.

WCASA is a membership agency comprised of organizations and individuals working to end sexual violence in Wisconsin. Among these are the 47 sexual assault service provider (SASP) agencies throughout the state that offer support, advocacy and information to victims of sexual assault and their families.  WCASA also works to create the social change necessary to ensure a future where no child, woman or man is ever sexually violated again.  To learn more about WCASA, go to their website at

The mission of SETA is to raise awareness about sexual assault, including military sexual trauma, through art and narrative storytelling.  For more information about SETA, contact Rachel Beauchene at 608-519-5008 or by email at