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'Hunting Ground' exposes 'perfect storm conditions' for campus sexual assault

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 19:  A general view of buildings on the campus of Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 19: A general view of buildings on the campus of Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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These days, getting into the college of your choice can be incredibly challenging. So imagine the excruciating pain of heading to the university of your dreams, only to have it become a living nightmare. That's what has happened to plenty of young women - and men - across the country, who have been victims of sexual assault on their campuses.

Not only is the attack traumatic, sometimes the worst part is the reaction victims get from school officials once they report they've been assaulted. 

A new CNN documentary titled "The Hunting Ground" exposes the rampant rape and assault on U.S. college campuses. Through interviews with victims, faculty, and advocates, it uncovers alleged institutional cover-ups and mistreatment of sexual assault survivors at universities across the country. 

The film was written, directed and produced by the duo behind the Academy Award-nominated documentary "The Invisible War," which brought sexual assault in the US Military to light - Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. The duo joined Take Two to talk about The Hunting Ground.

Watch the trailer:

"The Hunting Ground" opens in select theaters on February 27th. In Los Angeles, you can see at The Landmark Theatre.

Interview Highlights

On why Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering decided to make "The Hunting Ground"

KD: We were talking ['The Invisible War'] out to college campuses, and when we'd show it on college campuses, initially there'd be a big discussion on rape in the military. But then the discussion would turn to rape on college campuses.

And we kept seeing this happen again and again and again.

And when we started talking to faculty and administrators, we could sense the fear there. And finally, then we started getting emails and letters saying, 'please make a film on this subject,' from students, from survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

So we felt there was an imperative there, to make a film about this subject.

On the statistics on campus sexual assault presented in the film

AZ: Both men and women are assaulted, but women are assaulted much more than men.

KD: 16-20 percent of undergraduate women are assaulted in college, which is just an astronomical number. 

On the reaction when students decide to launch formal complaints

AZ: Unfortunately, more often than not, when students do elect to report, they are met with disbelief; they are challenged; they are made to feel like this somehow was their fault. 

What we found, and we also found this in the military, is not only does this impede the justice system from moving forward, right, but it also really compounds the survivors own PTSD and how they process the trauma.

More than one person in our film said, 'as bad as what happened to me was, everything in the aftermath actually ended up being much, much worse.' I mean, to have a horrific, traumatic event happen to you, and then to receive, not only no community support, but also hostility and backlash towards you? I mean, I don't think there's any other crime in our society where, if it happens to you, than you somehow are implicated in the blame.

That's really psychologically devastating in a way I've never seen.