Survivor shares story during Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April 15, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Army Community Service hosted the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Month kick-off ceremony April 7.
About 100 Soldiers, civilians and leadership focused on this year's campaign message that sexual assault affects mission readiness through the campaign's theme "Hurts one. Affects all," and slogan; "Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty."
Guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, commanding general, Fort Sam Houston and Army Medical Department Center & School, reiterated the program's concept:
"We have the opportunity to see what this violent crime does to our Soldiers, does to their Family members and does to our units," he said.
"We want to call attention to the negative impact that [sexual assault has on] each and every one of us. And, farther on down the line how it affects our nation, our safety, our health and welfare of our troops."
"We have a commitment to you, our employees."
Following his remarks, Czerw signed the Sexual Assault Awareness proclamation declaring April the designated month for prevention, education and awareness.
Standing in front of the "Clothesline Project," a display of T-shirts designed by the Unit Victim Advocates with messages about sexual assault, Theresa Anderson, sexual assault response coordinator, introduced Air Force Master Sgt. Tina Thieken from Lackland Air Force Base.
Thieken took the floor and related her story of surviving sexual assault. Through tears she delved into how she should have seen the 'red flags.'
A fellow servicemember took advantage of their friendship by slipping an illegal substance into her drink during dinner, while she was in the ladies room. The drug affected her ability to protect herself and the encounter escalated into sexual assault.
Thieken said, "He was a perpetrator, a predator and he used my sympathy to get to me. I never once said 'yes' to him, yet he took advantage of me. I am working through this. I should have done things differently; to not have put myself in that situation.
"Now, I talk to young women about the signs to look for, what things to do, so they are not in that situation. At any point, if someone says 'no,' that means exactly that, no. Just because an individual doesn't punch you or hold you down at knifepoint, if you have said no, it is rape."
Following a candlelight vigil and prayer by Maj. Jeffrey Walden, installation chaplain, guests were invited to refreshments.
The Department of Defense theme "Hurts one. Affects all," conveys the message that sexual assault can reverberate throughout a unit and beyond, degrading readiness by harming the life of the victim, and the military's ability to work effectively as a team.
The Army's "I. A. M. Strong" Campaign to prevent sexual assault encourages Soldiers to step up and eradicate sexual harassment and assaults from the ranks.
Throughout the month of April several events are planned to make the community aware of sexual assault: "Sex Signals," a funny play about the awkwardness of dating, sex and consent, April 15; the "Clothesline Project," a mobile T-shirt display, April 18; Wear Denim Day; April 20; "Child Sexual Assault" lunch and learn lecture, April 21; and a 5K Run/Walk, April 24.