Columbia Journalism School

Helen Benedict


Helen  Benedict



Professor Benedict is a novelist and journalist specializing in issues of social injustice and war. Her most recent writings have focused on women soldiers, military sexual assault, and Iraqi refugees, and she is credited with breaking the story about the epidemic of sexual assault of military women serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Her articles and books on this subject – the novel “Sand Queen” (2011, Soho Press) and the nonfiction book, "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq," (2009 and 2010, Beacon Press) -- won her the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism in 2013, when she was also named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st. Century” by Womens eNews. In 2010, this work also won the EMMA (Exceptional Merit In Media Award) from the National Women's Political Caucus, and the Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Professor Benedict’s writings on military sexual assault also inspired an ongoing lawsuit against the Pentagon and Defense Secretaries Rumsfeld and Gates on behalf of women and men who were sexually assaulted while in the military, and the documentary film, “The Invisible War” on the same subject, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2013.

Her play about women soldiers, "The Lonely Soldier Monologues," was produced several times in 2009 and 2010 in New York and is continuously being produced around the world, including in Chicago, IL, St. Paul, MN, Springfield, MA, and London, England.

Professor Benedict has published at least 14 articles about women soldiers and the Iraq War, including an Op-Ed in The New York Times in May 2008, pieces on BBC and The Nation Web sites, and articles in Ms., In These Times, Columbia, and elsewhere. In March 2007, she published a breaking story on the sexual assault of women soldiers serving in Iraq in Salon magazine, which won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.

Professor Benedict's other nonfiction books include "Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes" (1992), an analysis of the way sex, race and class bias affect the coverage of rape; "Portraits in Print" (1991), a collection of profiles and how to write them; and "Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault" (1985, 1994). Her earlier novels include “The Edge of Eden,” (2009), "The Opposite of Love" (2007), "The Sailor's Wife" (2000), "Bad Angel" (1996, 1997) and "A World Like This" (1990).

She has worked as a newspaper feature writer in London and California, has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Huffington Post, In These Times, Ms., the Women's Review of Books, and many other publications, and is widely anthologized. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Virginia Center of the Arts, Ragdale, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and the Freedom Forum.

?Read work by Helen Benedict

Research in Fiction--Necessary but Dangerous, The Center for Fiction? Why I Wrote a War Novel, On the Issues Magazine? War: A Love Story, Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life ?The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma ?Radio essay on military sexual abuse, Academic Minute, Drowning in the Garden of Eden, The Washington Post? Women at War: A Series of PBS blogs?The Plight of Women Soldiers, The Nation ?Women at War Face Sexual Violence, BBC News? When Johnny Comes Marching, The New York Times ?Betrayal in the Field, Columbia Magazine? How to Lie With Statistics, The Huffington Post ?Violent Veterans: The Big Picture, The Huffington Post? The Scandal of Military Rape, Ms. ?Why Soldiers Rape, In These Times ?For Women Warriors, Deep Wounds, Little Care, The New York Times Op-Ed ?The Private War of Women Soldiers, Salon

Watch a film about Benedict's new book, "The Edge of Eden."

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
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