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NEWS | March 27, 2014

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: it's about respect

By Capt. Andrew Caulk Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Community Advocate

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This gives us a dedicated period to reflect on our culture, values and behavior. It is a time to support victims, celebrate survivors, warn offenders and ultimately, educate our society about the realities of sexual assault and what each of us can do to stop it.

Joint Base San Antonio will host a number of events throughout April and across all military installations. The first event is "Can I Kiss You" at the Medical Education and Training Campus Student Center Auditorium at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the proclamation ceremony at 3 p.m. April 4 at the Evans Theater, building 1396 on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, where people can learn how to help stop sexual assaults.

Over the last few years, we've all heard about the sexual assault tragedies that have happened throughout our military communities. We've also experienced numerous training events in an attempt to "fix" the problem. However, the problem persists because it's a problem of culture.

The culture is not necessarily military specific. We also need to examine our national culture that underpins military culture. We need to talk about respect.

Situations that lead to sexual assault can be complicated. Yet, they often boil down to one person violating a basic principle - respect. When both parties respect each other, sexual assault doesn't happen.

Sexual predators thrive in environments of disrespect. They know they can get away with behavior that a respectful culture wouldn't allow. Therefore, we must instill respect in all we do.

One action that demonstrates respect for each other involves the issue of consent. Asking another individual for consent, specifically for physical intimacy, demonstrates that you care what the individual wants and values as much as you do.

Caring for each other is crucial if we are to build a respectful environment. As military members, caring for one another is vital if we are to achieve the difficult missions in front of us.

We need to apply this principle in every action of our lives. The impact of doing so is real and could lead to a community with little to no incidences of sexual assault.

Respect will be a common theme throughout many of the JBSA Sexual Assault Awareness Month events.

A call to action to build a respectful environment is the theme of the Department of Defense SAAM Theme for 2014 - "Live Your Values: Step UP and Stop Sexual

Take the month of April to reflect how your behavior shows respect for others and contributes to an environment where sexual assault cannot exist. When we respect each other and ask others to do the same, we win against sexual assault.