Kori Cioca: My Life Since The Invisible War
Since The Invisible War first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, my life has changed in a way that was completely unforeseen and unexpected.
For one, people who know nothing about me – complete strangers – stepped up to take care of my medical situation when the Veterans Affairs Administration wouldn't. In the last year I’ve had procedures done to correct my bite, which was previously causing my muscles to spasm, even in a resting position. I’ve received my final upper arch of veneers and am a week away from my bottom arch being finished as well. I also receive nerve block injections every 3 weeks. While it might sound painful, these are amazing because they help me eat real food. With these treatments, I’m not confined to the soft diet that limited me for so long. My doctor who gives me the injections is also looking into arthroscopic options for the joint. He recently advised that, "The only way to fix the anatomic defect would be to break and fix your jaw. This is risky. And frankly I don't know anyone who would be able to complete it without risk. I don't think it is worth the risk to try to repair the defect and it can do more damage."
I was upset to learn that the damage in my face was too far gone for the surgery I was supposed to receive in 2006, but after 7 years without treatment I honestly thought the rest of my life would be spent in pain. Every night I thank God for my supporters and generous donors. I'm sure they understand how helping monetarily to fix the damage is a big step in my case, but how their help has given me psychologically support as well is something they could never, ever imagine. My pain is a constant reminder of what happened to me, and because of the support I’ve received form my donors, I will get a chance to maybe have a day without it that pain – that constant reminder of what happened. With that they have granted me the hope that ceased to exist before. I am forever indebted to them.
Secondly, as I read my paragraph above, I realize that I can’t really say "who know nothing about me", because in all actuality anyone who has watched the documentary knows everything about me. That was very overwhelming at first, but the ease came from the flooding of e-mails from other survivors who said that my story told their story. I even met a woman at a screening in Yellow Springs, Ohio who stood up in front of the entire audience during the Q and A and said she had just told her story for the first time in 19 years, and that seeing The Invisible War gave her the power to forgive herself. It is healing for me to know that sharing my story has given others their voice and the knowledge that they are not alone. The outpour of support following the film has filled me with the strength to keep going and has once again given my life purpose. I am grateful for that. And because of that, for the first time in my life I no longer have to feel the blame, embarrassment and shame of being raped. The military made me believe that if I would have protected my body better, he wouldn't have entered it. I am sad to have been a victim, but fortunate to consider myself a survivor of our military's invisible war.
Finally, without the will and outrage of others, MST would still continue to be overlooked. With that, I want to say "thank-you" to the people reading this who have offered MST victims support – be it directly or indirectly be helping to raise awareness of this awful issue. Thank you to Ms. Susan Burke for your bravery, demanding change and striving to seek justice for MST victims. Thank you to my donors for your unconditional generosity, compassion, and support. To Congresswoman Speier for your continued efforts in the halls of Congress and for pushing for the passage of the STOP Act H.R.3435. To Congressman Turner for your efforts in my case, as well as in Congress and your unwavering dedication to veterans. To my doctors – Dr. Amol Soin of the Ohio Pain Clinic in Dayton, OH your constant, time, care and attention to help a veteran in need, and of course to Dr. Thomas Hedge as well. I couldn’t have made it here without the strength I received from my mother, and the understanding that Ioan, Kathryn, and Iustina Cioca granted me. To my husband, Robert McDonald: thank you for standing with me, loving me unconditionally and without hesitation. And to my children, yes plural, Rob and I welcomed a baby boy in May. Without their love I wouldn't have an anchor to stay on this earth. Last but not least, Mr. Kirby Dick and Miss Amy Ziering for crying with me, hugging me, but most of all, making me, this issue and other survivors NOT INVISIBLE.
I just finished watching the documentary on Netflix. I live in Canada, and though the documentary is about the US military, I don’t believe it is only a US problem. I plan to tell everyone I know about this movie, to raise awareness as best as I can. I have three daughters, and I would now be horrified if any of them had an interest in the military. You are a very strong woman, you and all the other survivors. I hope you one day will be living a completely pain free life.
Also, I would like to applaud your husband for standing by you through it all.
- Helen Pinch (NS, Canada)
I have just finished watching the documentary, and your story brought me to tears, your an extremely courageous women and you have my deepest respect and gratitude for speaking out for justice. Your in my prayers for healing. God bless your husband and your family. I too hope justice prevails for you. You are an immense inspiration for persevering. I hope the rest of your life is filled with joy and gladness, remain strong and determined. You are Amazing, Jesus bless you
I watched this film as it was mentioned in a film review show on BBC national radio in the UK today and recommended by a top film critic. I am glad I found it despite knowing beforehand that it was harrowing.
Yes it was painful, disturbing and heart-breaking but the strength and fortitude of the women involved, and their search for justice, was truly awe-inspiring.
The part of the film where you read your suicide note saw tears streaming down my face and is one of the most emotive scenes I have ever witnessed in ANY documentary.
Never give in Kori, never let them win. You are unstoppable and unbeatable. You have a beautiful family and a fantastic future watching your daughter grow up to be as strong as her Mommy. Congratulations on your new addition but I warn you now “boys are trouble”!!
Never let the past deny you a future however painful that past was. You are a true inspiration and I am pleased to read the positive news in your blog above.
I sincerely hope that your fight for justice will prevail and justice will be eventually served to those who have damaged the lives of yourself and the other incredibly courageous survivors.
Live long Kori, love and light to you and all yours from England. Nasher.
I was truly saddened by your ordeal in the film but am so very encouraged by your update in this blog. I wish you the best and may God give you blessings and strength to persevere and inspire others.
I survived PTSD (due to a different incident) and made it through the other end – you can come out the other end. I am a Mom and wife, on no meds and have very little remaining symptoms. I had EMDR. It worked for me.
My thoughts are with you.
I reported the attack and the member was arrested, and convicted. It is upsetting because I know he will do it (and worse) again. I will say everyone was very supportive and protected me after. The stupidest things bother me. It bothers me that there is a description of me naked in that report. It bothers me that everyone has to know.
Someday I will tell my daughter, and I will tell her that I stood up in front of a theatre full of people and faced him, and he was convicted.
I hope she is proud, even though I was terrified the entire time.
We see patients daily with similar pains and conditions and are able to successfully treat and rehabilitate them. Every. Single. Day. If you’d like a second opinion or someone to review your case, I see the world experts on TMJ on a daily basis (who wrote most of the text books and travel across the nation doing research) and can have them review your case (we have weekly case presentations). Please don’t hesitate.
Nicole Murray DDS, MPH
As I watched the film I wondered why none of the perpetrators’ names were ever mentioned. There must be a legal reason for the victims of rape not to disclose—otherwise I can imagine that naming my assailant would be the first thing I would do in this situation. I wish Kirby Dick had somehow found a way to attach faces and names to these horrible crimes. There should be a web site that outs these pieces of shit. I really can’t understand how polite everyone is being—both in the film and in the media surrounding the film.
On that note, let me also thank you for your comment about wishing your rapist could somehow fall overboard and be chopped into shark bait by the propeller. That sounded just about right.
All best to you, Kori.
Kori, all our survivor female troops and vets, our hearts are with you. Stay steadfast.
For all the survivors, past, present, and future, you’re action is incredibly courageous. I would like to thank you all for your bravery in telling your personal stories.
As a woman Army veteran myself, I have experienced and seen military sexual assault and harassment. Even through the Army ‘buddy system,’ I have witnessed rape. I too was told to ignore sexist comments, avoid particular men, not drink too much, not walk alone, not dress a certain way, and just get over it. As if doing any of these thing makes it a valid reason to be harassed, assaulted, or raped. As if it’s a choice to endure a traumatic experience.
This film has made a huge impact on me. I believe if you’re willing to serve and fight for your country, you should be treated with the utmost respect and honor. The DOD’s culture of denial, shame, and flat-out indifference has to end. I am fed-up with it. I promise to fight. You are all much more than survivors, you are true heros. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me.