Schweinfurt's Victim Advocate cares for all
September 21, 2012
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- Not only is she a mother of three, but she tenderly cares for us all. Not only does she enjoy traveling leisurely on a free weekend, but she will journey with us however long it takes. Allison Davis, the Installation Victim Advocate (VA) for USAG Schweinfurt is here to assist those affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.
"I don't have a definitive job description," said Davis. "If you need someone to talk to, that's what I'm here for. If you find yourself without a way to Ledward or an appointment, I can assist with that. If you'd like someone to accompany you to a legal or medical appointment, I can do that."
Victim Advocacy staff only work with victims who voluntarily seek their help.
"I work for you as the victim," said Davis. "I'm not going to threaten to meet with your command or your sponsor's command if you don't meet with me. It doesn't matter what uniform you put on each morning, or who you do or don't work for."
Victims of sexual assault have complete confidentiality. The program offers restricted reporting, which allows the victim advocate to provide services and options to victims without reporting it to local law enforcement, military police, the criminal investigation department or the victim's command. Victims may also opt for unrestricted reporting, which does launch an investigation.
Allison Davis is available 24/7 via the hotline at 0162-271-1413. She can also be found at her office located within the ACS building on Ledward Barracks Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Her office line is DSN 354-6933/6681, CIV 09721-96-6933/6681. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I sat with Davis as she passionately recounted over 18 years of experience with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Talking with Davis was like talking with a genuine friend--easy and refreshing.
WHAT FEARS OR RESERVATIONS DO VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT TYPICALLY HAVE THAT DETER THEM FROM REPORTING THE OFFENSE?
When a Soldier becomes a victim, they might say to his or herself, "How could I be so stupid? Why didn't I listen?" So, they are very embarrassed about reporting. Then, they want to know if they are going to be believed or not. Maybe the victim believes his or her conduct wasn't the best. Maybe they had been drinking or did something that could be subjected to speculation that "Oh, he or she was asking for it."
WHAT REASSURANCE DO VICTIMS HAVE TO COME FORWARD TO REPORT?
The support is there. It may seem very scary and dark. "Oh, this person may judge me" or "I'm not going to get the support from my command." I've found just the opposite. The command wants to help and support their victims. The same support that a servicemember can get, a civilian or dependent can get as well.
LOOKING BACK AT THE ATTACK, SOME VICTIMS FEEL INADEQUATE BECAUSE THEY DID NOT PHYSICALLY FIGHT BACK.
If you said "No," "Stop," "I don't want to do this," or "Leave me alone," then those are words that you used to fight back. If the act still continues, then you know within yourself that you did what you were supposed to do. It doesn't matter whether you or the perpetrator have evidence of bruises and scratches to show you fought back. You said "no," and that's all you needed and had to say.
ACCORDING TO THE RAPE, ABUSE, AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK, A VAST MAJORITY OF RAPES ARE COMMITTED BY SOMEONE KNOWN TO THE VICTIM. HOW THEN CAN ONE GO OUT WITH A FRIEND OF THE OPPOSITE SEX TO HAVE AN INNOCENT GOOD TIME?
You may have the best intentions when you go out with your good friend -- have a few drinks, dance and have a good time. On the other hand, this good friend may be wired to believe "Hmm, he/she is coming on to me," or "We're going to keep on getting drunk and have a good ol' time because I know where this is leading." It's a lack of communication. You should let them know from the beginning, "Look, we are going out as friends. I got your back. You've got mine, but that's all it is."
TELL ME ABOUT THE MALE VICTIM THAT WALKS INTO YOUR OFFICE.
Men have some reservations at first and are cautious to talk in the beginning: "What is she (Davis) going to think of me?" or "What will the SHARP coordinator within my unit think of me?" Once a man reports and realizes we do not look at gender, but that we only see him as a victim, he feels relieved that he did come forward and share about being a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. Once men leave, they say "You know what? I'm glad I did that."
HOW CAN SEXUAL ASSAULT OCCUR BETWEEN A HUSBAND AND WIFE?
"No" means no -- even when you say "I do" and agree to live happily ever after. If your spouse is saying "no," even if you think he or she is being serious or flirtatious, then you need to back off. Period. End of story.
WHO ARE THE PERPETRATORS?
The trends we see are that perpetrators usually are between 19 and 25 years old, grades E1 to E4, and stationed at their first duty station. They may have a substance abuse issue in reference to alcohol and/or drugs. It isn't social drinking either, but it's a pattern of always consuming alcohol. Of course, they can be any age or rank, but this is what we typically see at USAG Schweinfurt.
Editor's Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Allison Davis. The first part focuses on her work with sexual assault and the second deals with her work on domestic abuse.