Helen Benedict is a novelist and journalist specializing in social injustice, refugees, the effects of war on civilians and soldiers, and on violence against women. Her most recent writings, including the nonfiction book, "Map of Hope and Sorrow," have focused on Middle Eastern and African refugees trapped in camps in Greece, while her earlier work covered Iraqi refugees in the U.S., American women soldiers, and military sexual assault. In 2021, Benedict was awarded the 2021 PEN Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History (link is external) for her work on refugees, to be published in the novel, "The Good Deed," and published in the nonfiction book, "Map of Hope and Sorrow: Stories of Refugees Trapped in Greece." (Footnote Press, 2022).
Benedict is credited with breaking the story about the epidemic of sexual assault of military women serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Her work on refugees include articles published in 2019-2021 in The New York Times, The Nation, Slate, and Guernica; while her work on war is reflected in her novel, "Wolf Season," (2017, Bellevue), her previous novel “Sand Queen” (2011, Soho Press) and her non- fiction book, "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq," (2009 and 2010, Beacon Press), which won her the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism in 2013. Benedict was also named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews. In 2015, she was a finalist for the U.K. Liberty Human Rights Arts Award for her play, “The Lonely Soldier Monologues.” Her work has also won the EMMA (Exceptional Merit in Media Award) from the National Women's Political Caucus, the Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.
Benedict's non-fiction book, “The Lonely Soldier,” led to a class-action suit against the Pentagon on behalf of women and men who were sexually assaulted in the military and also inspired the 2012 Oscar- nominated documentary about sexual assault in the military, “The Invisible War.” Her earlier book, “Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes” is widely taught in journalism and law schools and has helped to change the way several newspapers cover sexual assault, while her book, “Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault” is used by rape crisis centers around the country. She has testified twice to Congress as an expert on sexual assault in the military.