FORT SILL, Okla. (April 23, 2010) -- Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. One in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

College-aged women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted. About 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to statistics. Seventy-three percent of rape victims know their assailant and only 6 percent of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sexual assault is defined as rape, forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual contact and indecent assault as defined by Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

"Sexual assault is a problem in all communities," said Lisa Singleton, Reynolds Army Community Hospital OB/GYN head nurse and sexual assault nurse examiner. "It's not just at Fort Sill. It's everywhere. We have to be prepared and have awareness."

Awareness is the key to prevention.

"It's our objective to keep the public, Soldiers and their families, as aware as possible," said Sgt. Cedric Kizzee, unit victim advocate. "We want them to be aware of all of the resources available to them."

"Our main goal is to bring awareness to sexual assault this month," said Singleton. "It's unfortunate that it does happen often and it's not only adults that it happens to, it's children as well."

The sexual assault awareness program was developed in 2004 and 2005. Fort Sill started its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program in 2005.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, launched the I. A.M. STRONG campaign in 2008, which allows Soldiers to Intervene, Act, Motivate.

According to the Army Web site, when the program was launched, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth O. Preston, sergeant major of the Army, encouraged Soldiers attending the annual Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers conference to take his advice.

"I want to reinforce that it's your duty as a Soldier to INTERVENE. When you recognize a threat to a fellow Soldier, I expect you to have the personal courage to INTERVENE and prevent sexual assault. As a warrior and a member of a team, you must INTERVENE."

"ACT: As a brother, a sister, a fellow Soldier, it is your duty to stand up for your battle buddies, no matter the time or place. Take ACTION. Do what's right. Prevent sexual assault. We are Soldiers, MOTIVATED to engage and keep our fellow Soldiers safe. It is our mission to prevent sexual assault and to live the Army Values and take care of our fellow Soldiers. We are all MOTIVATED to take action, to promote SAPRP programs and become advocates within our communities. We are strongest, together."

"In the aspect of prevention there are red flag indicators that, once recognized and acknowledged, could possibly prevent sexual assault," said Leslie Watts, Army Community Service sexual assault response coordinator. "People suffering from high stress, poor relationships, lack of counseling and poor coping mechanisms are much more susceptible to assaulting someone."

Domestic abuse, sexual abuse, violence and assault are all related. Seeking out programs to help any one of these things can reduce the risk for all of them.

The Army offers programs built to educate, strengthen relationships and learn healthy behavior.

"PAIRS (Practical Applications for Intimate Relationship Skills) workshops are offered many times a year," said Watts. "Anyone can also attend a family wellness seminar or 7 Habits of Highly Effective Military Families. These programs are great for building relationship skills and learning to live a healthy lifestyle."

For some people, identifying sexual assault may be difficult. Asking these simple questions may clarify it:

Did he/she:
Ignore your personal space'
Force you to drink'
Wait to make a sexual advance until he/she knew you were intoxicated'
Become hostile when you refused the advances'
Ignore your hesitation or rejection to sexual advance'
Physically restrain you during sexual contact'
Threaten you if you refuse to comply with sexual advances'

Did you:
Feel physically or emotionally coerced into sexual contact'
Fear what he/she would do if you didn't comply'
Pass out or fall asleep and wake up to someone having sexual contact with you'

All of these are signs of sexual assault.

Sexual assault is a national problem. Being aware and knowing how to prevent it can stop it from happening.

Victim advocates can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for domestic or sexual assault at 580-574-0871. Fort Sill's sexual assault response coordinator can also be reached at 442-0077.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16