By Jo Anita MileyApril 26, 2013
Perrar Joseph and Jeronica Frierson, victim advocates for the Army Community Service Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Program came to the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville to provide information about sexual assault and educate Center employees on how to prevent sexual violence April 23. Angela Morton, chief of the Center's Equal Employment Opportunity Office and Sonja Rice, equal employment specialist, were also available to answer questions and provide information.
Joseph said this was his team's first visit to Huntsville Center. The decision to visit is part on an effort to better serve local government organizations that are not physically located on Redstone Arsenal. The team plans to make contact with other outlying government organizations during April.
"It's very important that we let the entire Redstone community know they have access to our (ACS) resources," Joseph said. "Sometimes employees think they cannot get help on base because their organization is located off base -- out of sight, out of mind. We are working diligently to change this perception. We have services to help everyone."
According to Joseph, the overarching goal for the Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention and Response Program is to reduce the stigma of reporting and increase prevention, investigation and prosecution capabilities while ensuring protection of sexual assault survivors from retaliation and threats.
The team also disseminated material about child abuse awareness, stress relief, financial management, autism, and other ACS services. Joseph said they focused on child abuse prevention during the visit because some employees may not know April is also National Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month.
"We observe National Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month to educate and empower families and communities to protect and care for victims of child abuse and neglect," Joseph said. Providing support for parents at risk for child abuse is critical to protecting children and ending the cycle of abuse. One case of child abuse or neglect is one too many."
Joseph stressed the importance of victims seeking help from the appropriate sources. Since Redstone is such a small community, sometimes privacy may become an issue. This is why victims who may feel uncomfortable reporting an incident to Redstone authorities can seek help from a non-military resource, Crisis Center of North Alabama.
"What is important is that they seek help. So we want to make every resource possible available to them," Joseph said. "We are working to support survivors and prevent sexual violence. "We have to get the word out that no one has to go through a sexual assault alone."
The Army launched its official recognition of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month April 5, with the announcement of a new theme, "We own it, we'll solve it, together," meant to convey how the service hopes to eradicate sexual assault within the ranks.
To report incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, contact the Redstone ACS 24/7 Hotline at 256-508-6613 or Crisis Center of North Alabama at 24/7 Hotline at 256-716-1000.