By Kristen O'Neill
Post-traumatic stress disorder has been referred to as a soldier’s “invisible wounds” (“About Us”) from battle, the new fight they face even after returning from war. Dr. Danny Wedding and Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec, two psychologists, write in their book Movies and Mental Illness about twenty-nine movies that show characters with diagnosed PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms. Though most of those films featured veterans and war victims, not one of them featured a female with PTSD. This is despite the fact women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD (“PTSD Statistics”).
When PTSD was first being researched, it focused mainly on the male veterans returning from the Vietnam War. Researchers only looked into PTSD in females in relationship to the behaviors and symptoms shown by female rape victims (“Women, Trauma, and PTSD”). In 2012, over three-thousand sexual assaults were reported to the Department of Defense, 88% of the victims being women (Hlad). Between their increased risk of exposure to trauma due to combat and the risk of sexual assault in the military, servicewomen are put in a situation with two of the triggers commonly associated with causing PTSD. Yet, the National Center for PTSD in 2014 said future research needs to be done to determine the effects of this exposure on women.
So, females in the military are being passed over in Hollywood films that feature the debilitating condition that they are more prone to than their male counterparts. Even science has not done enough research to determine just how much more they are at risk. And now, people are ignoring the plight as even documentaries about soldiers with PTSD feature mostly men. Out of six documentaries specifically focusing on PTSD and adjustment back into civilian life, five of the films featured just men. The last film featured one woman and her struggle (“About the Film”).
With more and more stories coming out about women being sexually assaulted in the military, and the plight of veterans with PTSD gaining more and more exposure, there is no reason for the lack of representation of these invisible warriors in our society. These women have served our country above and beyond and risk so much only to come home scarred. Just as giving young girls role models they can look up to can bolster confidence (Periera), showing these warriors that society has acknowledged their wounds and that they are not alone can make all the difference to a soldier in a dark place.
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Wedding, Danny, Ryan M. Niemiec, and Mary Ann Boyd. "Appendix F." Movies and Mental Illness 3: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology. 3rd ed. Boston: Hogrefe, 2010. Web. < http://www.hogrefe.com/program/media/flyingbooks/600371/files/600371.pdf>,