By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story—more than 1 million women reported being raped in a year.
To help combat and prevent this problem, the Army implemented programs to include Sexual Harassment/Assault and Sexual Assault Awareness Month to educate Soldiers and civilians on the dangers of sexual assault.
Roger Dickerson, the Fort Knox SHARP program manager, said this year’s theme “Live our values: step up to stop sexual assault” recognizes the importance of prevention and educating the victim on how the community is assisting in combating this problem.
Dickerson stressed how the Army culture and environment plays a role if a victim reports an assault.
“If you have a command climate that you trust, a Soldier will not have an issue and (will) come forward (and report the assault),” explained Dickerson. “Commanders and leaders have to invest and build trust in work areas.”
Dickerson pointed out that when a victim reports an assault, “We take it as truth.”
He also said there are several ways women can protect themselves and be more cautious when going out with friends. When going out Dickerson said it’s best to travel with a group and avoid excessive drinking. He added using technology, such as the White House award-winning safety app, which is designed for college students and allows them to alert friends about their GPS location, call campus police, call 911 locally, or send out alerts via phone, text, email or Facebook.
One in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in college and this app seeks to prevent assaults from happening, according to www.PreventSexualAssault.army.mil. This app is available on the App Store and Google Play.
If a Soldier is assaulted he or she has two options of reporting –restricted or unrestricted reporting. Restricted reporting allows the victim to disclose the details of his or her sexual assault to specifically identified individuals. It also allows the victim to receive medical treatment and counseling without initiating an official investigation. Unrestricted reporting allows a victim who desires medical treatment, counseling and an official investigation of the allegation to use current reporting channels.
Dickerson said if a victim initially chooses restricted reporting, he or she always has the option of changing to unrestricted which then triggers an investigation.
He also suggests Soldiers talk to their unit SHARP represented about restricted and unrestricted reporting guidelines. Victims can also call the 24-hour hotline, seven days a week at (502) 851-3779.
As part of this month’s awareness SHARP is partnering with the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club to host the Fort Knox college scholarship 5k run/walk April 12 at 8:30 a.m. at Keyes Park; Denim Day April 23; and leader engagement May 9, which will be open to everyone on the installation. Russell Strand, the chief of the U.S. Army Military Police School Family Advocacy Law Enforcement Training Division, a retired U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command federal special agent with more than 36 years of law enforcement, investigative and consultation experience, will be one of the guest speakers during leader engagement. Mary Lauterbach will also be a guest speaker. Lauterbach is the mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach. Maria was sexually assaulted and murdered at the hands of her Marine perpetrator.
Dickerson said since her daughter’s murder she has been an inspirational voice for service members and veterans by increasing awareness of sexual assault in the military and advocating for better services for survivors.
“We encourage all units to do something in the command for Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” Dickerson said. “This is a (time for) command to show their efforts in eliminating sexual harassment and assaults in their ranks. It starts with the most junior Soldier.
“We (have) to own the problem and take responsibility for fixing it in the military. (It takes the efforts of) the military, civilians, contractors and Family members.”