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NEWS | April 5, 2007

Base uses education to beat sexual assault

By Capt. Greg Ross 345th Training Squadron

A man is walking to his car in the parking garage when he suddenly finds himself being held at gunpoint. The victim is not just robbed. He's raped as well.

Sexual assault is one of the most underreported violent crimes in America today. To help educate the public about the true nature of sexual assault, the Department of Defense actively observes the annual National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Since military members and their families are not immune to sexual assault, and since there are some service members capable of committing such atrocious acts, the DoD strives to ensure that servicemembers are aware that sexual assault crimes are not tolerated.

To combat the frequency of sexual assault and to assist survivors and their families, the DoD implemented the Sexual Assault Prevention and Outreach Program. The program incorporates a comprehensive policy that reinforces a culture of prevention, response and accountability.

The goal of the SAPO Program is to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of all members of the armed forces through training and education programs, treatment and support of victims.

This year's theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is "Stand Up Against Sexual Assault ... Make a Difference."

This theme encompasses an attitude toward prevention of this violent crime, reminding us that each of us, regardless of rank or position, can make differences through our actions. Lack of action exacerbates the crime.

Since 2004, advancements in reporting options have helped create a climate of confidence in reporting. One of the policies implemented in 2005 was the restricted reporting option, which enables victims to come forward without triggering the investigative process, yet still receive the care that they deserve.

Sixty-five percent of the increase in sexual assault reports involving members of the service can be attributed to the restricted reporting option that began in June 2005.

This alternate choice, coupled with enhanced awareness of sexual assault and vigorous training, has encouraged more victims to take a stand against their assailant.

Take an active stand in learning more about sexual assault and its prevention by participating in local SAAM events this month.