FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2022
Univision Film “#IamVanessaGuillen” Tells Story of Survivors’ Resilience and Fight For Justice Following Vanessa Guillen’s Murder
The advocacy featured in the groundbreaking Univision-led documentary, including that of POD and Col. Christensen, directly contributed to the passage of the most transformative military justice reform in our nation’s history as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act
Washington, DC – Today, Univision Noticias released “#IamVanessaGuillen,” a groundbreaking documentary about the resilience of survivors of military sexual violence and their fight to change the broken military justice system. “#IamVanessaGuillen” chronicles survivor Karina Lopez’s journey going public with her sexual assault in the wake of Vanessa Guillen’s tragic death in 2020 and launching the viral #IamVanessaGuillen hashtag, ultimately inspiring hundreds of servicemembers to share their stories in the fight for reform. The documentary sheds light on the profound issues of racism, misogyny, sexual violence and trauma that military leadership has consistently and systematically covered up.
Protect Our Defenders (POD) consulted directly with director and producer Andrea Patiño Contreras and producer David Adams in the making of “#IamVanessaGuillen” to uplift survivor voices. In the time this documentary was produced, President Biden signed the most transformative military justice reform in our nation’s history – the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), officially empowering independent military prosecutors to determine whether those accused of sexual assault, rape, murder, domestic violence and seven other serious offenses will be prosecuted.
The work of advocates and survivors featured in this documentary played a critical role in driving forward that historic legislative victory, paving the way for continued reform to protect our servicemembers. To view the documentary in its entirety, please visit: https://www.univision.com/especiales/noticias/2022/i-am-vanessa-guillen/#/en/
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“The military’s sexual assault crisis and significant racial disparities have been allowed to persist for so long – in large part – because military leadership has failed to hold offenders accountable.
“Protect Our Defenders is thrilled to see today’s release of the “#IamVanessaGuillen” documentary, an unflinching effort to hold the military accountable by amplifying the stories’ of the survivors who powered the military’s #MeToo movement. Those who tell survivors stories are critical to driving forward change that lasts.
“We thank the producers at Univision for their commitment to honoring Karina Lopez and survivors’ stories. But, most importantly, we thank the survivors whose persistent bravery kickstarted the #IamVanessaGuillen movement, bolstered military justice reform efforts and honored Vanessa’s life. Real reform is only possible because of the tireless work of advocates and survivors committed to professionalizing and modernizing the military’s justice system.”