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Florida State University's Student Veteran Film Festival Sheds Light On Little-Known Issue

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The Florida State University Collegiate Veterans Association is working to raise awareness about sexual assault in the military. The group’s second annual Student Veteran Film Festival featured a well-known director’s take on the often under reported issue.

The documentary tells the stories of men and women in the military who were victims of sexual assault during their time in the service. And highlights the soldier’s battles for fair prosecution. The film’s director Kirby Dick says it’s an issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention.

“As I started looking into it, I realized not only had a feature documentary not been made on the subject, but also there’s been no comprehensive book written on the subject, which told me that this was a subject that very few people knew about. It really was covered up in a lot of ways and kept from American society,” Dick said.

In the film officials talk about how decisions to prosecute reported claims are left up to officers who often don’t choose to pursue charges. Executive Director of Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights Terry Coonan, says that’s a sign of a bigger cultural problem.

“It’s indicative of larger issues in our society. Where, you know, rape isn’t seen as quite rape unless it fits a particular profile. Victims sometimes are seen as somehow bringing it on themselves. And it’s one of the few crimes, one of the only crimes, where the victim is often blamed for the crime,” Coonan said.

Director, Kirby Dick is working to bring awareness to the issue by showing his documentary around the country. His film received the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was part of the FSU Student Veterans Film Festival, an event to raise awareness about veteran’s issues and support services available through the university.