USAG CASEY, Republic of Korea - April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, with the Army's I.A.M. STRONG Campaign encouraging all Soldiers to intervene, act and motivate to prevent sexual assaults.

Indeed, the Army recognizes the tremendous damage inflicted to individual Soldiers, to unit cohesion and to the fabric of Army Values by sexual assaults. Therefore, it is devoting significant resources to I.A.M. STRONG in responding and preventing such incidents by encouraging bystanders to act.

However, it is normal human tendency in social settings to avoid these and other confrontations often caused by alcohol, said Dan Silvia, Area I sexual assault coordinator.

"Someone who constantly calls out others about their bad behavior is likely to be an unappreciated and even unwanted companion," he said. "We don't want someone counting our drinks, or commenting on how often we borrow money or how rarely we keep our promises. We like our buddies to be friendly, admiring and non critical."

But "We no longer think it is okay to look the other way and tolerate ... drunks who want to drive," Silva explained. "We no longer think its okay to turn a blind eye when someone puts a black eye and bruises on their spouse or their child."

The military as a whole, Silva explained, is becoming more involved by pointing out intolerable behaviors and requiring bystanders to do more.

He said: "You've led a very sheltered life if you've never been to any of these scenes - someone using alcohol or drugs sets up a victim or taking advantage of a potential victim's intoxication; someone using a position of authority or trust to maneuver for sexual favors; or someone attempting to seek group approval for actions that will clearly lead to sexual exploitation of the designated victim."

All too often, what happens in these situations is what is termed by some social scientists as "bus stop mentality."

It is the tendency of good and decent people to ignore bad behavior in social settings by using such execuses as: this isn't their community; it's none of their business; and they are simply on their way to somewhere else and have no obligation to get involved.

And being stationed overseas can offer even more challenges in combating the bus stop mentality.

"You are on your way to somewhere else, right'" Silvia said. "And this isn't your community. (But) you are part of U.S. Forces Korea, an organization and a community that depends on every member living the Army Values and the Warrior Ethos in order to accomplish its mission."

This year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme is Our Strength is for Defending: Readiness Equals Respect, leading Silva to say: "We can make that equation the norm in every unit and across every installation - but not without (each Soldier)."

Page last updated Sun February 28th, 2010 at 19:40