April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, or #SAAM, and one of the best ways we can all participate is by educating ourselves on the facts of sexual violence. Countless organizations across the country, to show their support, to educate, and to start important conversations, will host screenings of films that engage with the state of sexual violence in the nation. Look for a #SAAM film screening, or other #SAMM events, near you, here. Or gather some friends and have a #SAAM film night on your own, together.
Below is a list of five powerful, unflinching documentaries, each approaching sexual violence from a different, thoughtful perspective. The films are not easy to watch, but important to see. They contain a great deal of pain. They also contain a great deal of courage.
For more facts and statistics about the state of sexual violence in the nation, read our article here.
1. The Hunting Grounds
Released in 2015, and directed by Kirby Dick, The Hunting Grounds is an unflinching look into the high frequency of sexual assault on college campuses. The film follows a number of college students who were sexually assaulted, who must now contend not only with their recoveries, but with complex academic bureaucracies, which have sometimes seemed more interested in protecting institutions than delivering justice.
2. I Am Evidence
2017’s I Am Evidence, narrated by Mariska Hargitay, focuses on three cities—Detroit, Los Angeles, and Cleveland—where tens of thousands of rape kits remain backlogged and unexamined. The film follows the stories of survivors seeking justice through the court, highlighting various failures of the US criminal justice system.
3. Audrie & Daisy
Audrie & Daisy, released in 2016, follows the stories of two young women, Audrie Potts and Daisy Coleman, who were both sexually assaulted as students in their early teens. Using social media, court documents, and interviews, the film examines the assaults, but also the aftermaths, in which both the victims and their families were subjected to extensive scorn and cyberbullying from the surrounding community.
4. Anita: Speaking Truth to Power
Anita Hill, in 1991, found herself suddenly a national figure when she was called to testify publicly about the sexual harassment she experienced from her past boss, Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. Anita: Speaking Truth to Power is the story of a woman who has empowered millions to stand up for equality and justice.
5. The Invisible War
The Invisible War exposes the rape and sexual assault epidemic that has, for many years, existed within the military. Following the stories of several veterans, who experienced a sexual assault during their service to the country, the film investigates the lack of resources survivors were provided following their attacks, an impartial military justice system, reprisals against survivors, and even the forced expulsion of survivors who attempted to seek justice.
Join the conversation on social media, by using the hashtags #BeWell, #BeHeard, and #BeThere, and by using this year’s hashtags from the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, #SAAM and #IAsk.