#IamVanessaGuillen, which looks at how the 2020 murder of Army soldier Vanessa Guillén at Killeen’s Fort Hood ignited a movement to end military sexual trauma.
The film features interviews with other military sexual assault survivors, including Karina Lopez, who survived her assault on the same base and later created a viral Facebook post with the hashtag #IamVanessaGuillen.
“A part of me died, because somebody decided to do this to me and nobody wanted to listen,” Lopez says in the documentary’s trailer. “I wrote my story and put my picture next to hers, because I was Vanessa. I am Vanessa.”
Univision Noticias, the news division of Spanish-language TV network TelevisaUnivision, is presenting the documentary in both English and Spanish. The film is available in its entirety on Univision's #IamVanessaGuillen website.
Guillén's disappearance and murder shocked the nation. A subsequent congressional investigation of Fort Hood cast light on the glaring missteps taken at the Texas installation to deal with sexual abuse. Ultimately, 14 senior officers there were fired or suspended for their failures.
That investigation found that Guillén reported being sexually harassed two times by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood before she was killed — a finding that contradicted the Army’s initial claims that there was no evidence she'd experienced harassment.
Guillén’s dismembered remains were found buried along the Leon River in June 2020. Killeen police, U.S. Marshals and Fort Hood criminal investigators attempted to arrest Specialist Aaron Robinson in relation to the murder, but he shot and killed himself before he could be apprehended.
On Jan. 1, provisions of the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act” became law. For the first time in U.S. military history, ranking commanders won't be able to decide whether to prosecute service members accused of serious crimes such as manslaughter, stalking and domestic violence. Instead, independent prosecutors will make that call.
Through cases such as Guillén’s and Lopez’s — bolstered by accounts from other soldiers and military sexual trauma experts — the “#IamVanessaGuillen” documentary aims to shed even more light on profound issues of racism, sexual violence and trauma the military has historically neglected.
“We hope this film elevates the stories of Karina and all the other survivors that shared their testimonies with us, and that their voices serve as catalysts to raise awareness about this issue both within military and veteran communities, as well as among civilians,” documentary director Andrea Patiño Contreras said in a release.
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