Art can save us. If you think we are going to get out of this shit show without art, you're mistaken.
Brené Brown, research professor, University of Houston and author of the Quest for True Belonging.
Heroine is based on the true story of a lesbian soldier in the US army: an outsider who wouldn't quit.
She loved its challenges; thrived and excelled within that rigorous world. At the time she enlisted, before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was repealed, she was the only woman in her entire company and went on to lead a squad into combat. A survivor of military sexual trauma, she served on the battlefield alongside her assailant.
Heroine is an incredible human story about one soldier's experiences, and what healing and forgiveness really mean.
The Bigger Picture
This play is not a polemic for or against war. It is a dramatically compelling story, but I also wrote it from a sense of outrage at what one soldier endured, admiration for her character and because I wanted to support her healing. Her truth needs to be out there and she was clearly ready to talk. I knew that in order to tell this story responsibly and truthfully, the dark humour we shared was also essential. My bones said, 'Write.'
In my research, I was horrified to find out just how many servicemen and women had also been raped by their fellow soldiers in their own platoons, often by those higher up in the chain of command. The problem has been around for decades and is only getting worse. The military knows, but to my great moral disgust, turns a blind eye to it, ignores it or blames the victims and promotes their assailants. No register of sex offenders existed within the military until 2014.
Most of these perpetrators are institutionally championed. When honourably discharged, they go straight into civilian society.
This play is my way of supporting one woman's bravery in speaking out.
The play tells her story, and does not promote any specific piece of legislation (God save us from theatre that does THAT) but I am an active campaigner now as a result of writing it. I feel there is a need for the promotion of specific change so that the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care from sexual assaults is taken out of the normal military chain of command, which has proven grossly ineffective, and places jurisdiction in an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office.
The Department of Defence (DOD) defines Military Sexual Trauma (MST) as rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and acknowledges that it affects both women and men in uniform. The Pentagon estimates that sexual assaults increased from 19,000 in 2011 to 26,000 in 2012 and the figures are actually higher from 2013-2016. For a copy of the 2017 report, see the RESOURCES page. The 2017 figures take into account the estimated 80% of cases that are not reported, but not repeated assaults or assaults against civilians. The culture of professional retaliation against those who do report makes me think that figure is conservative. Also, of the 22 veterans suicides every day, 19 of those are MST survivors, according to the American Psychological Association.
As it stands, there are 40 sexual assaults or related incidents EVERY DAY.
I support both a zero occurrence and zero tolerance of MST.
Please consider adding your voice to the chorus demanding change:
take a look at the RESOURCES page for ways to do this.