Protecting our people protects our mission
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Eliminating sexual assault requires every service member be a steadfast participant in creating an appropriate culture and upholding military core values. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Kristan Campbell)
April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) across the country, by both civilian and military communities. This year’s Department of Defense theme is “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.” The theme offers numerous opportunities to encourage behaviors that foster a climate of dignity and respect, and help ensure readiness to complete the DoD mission.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape at some time in their lives. About 1 in 20 women and men have experienced sexual violence other than rape in the past year.
Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority, or when the victim doesn’t or can’t consent. It can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship, or age of the victim.
"Sexual assault can have harmful and lasting consequences for victims, families, communities, and operational readiness,” said Navy Lt. Ariel Campbell, Naval Hospital Jacksonville sexual assault prevention and response point of contact. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to eliminate sexual assault from our environment.”
One of the most effective methods of preventing sexual assault is active bystander intervention.
An active bystander identifies situations that might lead to a sexual assault, and then safely intervenes to prevent an assault from occurring. The three components to active bystander intervention are: recognize when to intervene, consider whether the situation needs attention, and decide if there is a responsibility to act.
Victims of sexual assault have two reporting options: unrestricted and restricted. Unrestricted cases are reported through the chain of command and trigger an official investigation. Restricted reports (only available to service members and adult dependents of service members) are made confidentially and don’t trigger an investigation, allowing victims to get help without reporting it through their chain of command or law enforcement.
To report a sexual assault (inside the U.S. or overseas via the Defense Switched Network), call the toll-free DoD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247.
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