FORT STEWART-- When dealing with dark issues surrounding sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, it helps to have someone you can talk to safely, without recrimination, about your feelings, fears, and available resources that can help enlighten your options.
To address those issues, the Installation Family Life Chaplains Office and Army Community Services Family Advocacy conducted familiarization training at Fort Stewart's Victory Chapel, June 13.
Installation Family Life Chaplain (Maj.) Dan Hardin said the training was conducted by Family Advocacy to assist Unit ministry team's pastoral response to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and hazing.
"Chaplains and chaplains assistants are imbedded with units at battalion level and are first responders for many issues including sexual assault, domestic violence and harassment," Hardin said, adding that familiarizing them with issues and resources facilitates their pastoral care.
Two primary objectives of the training were to increase awareness of those issues and to share a referral list of agencies and resources that can help - so they can collaborate with other care providers.
Hardin said they also wanted to reinforce pastoral responder's clinical skills on how to help the people work through, manage and cope with these sensitive situations.
Chaplain Assistant, Spc. Dominique Saldala from Hunter Army Airfield said the issues were serious and helped her see the different perspectives.
Some of the topics discussed by the ACS Family Advocacy representatives were the four types of abuse, which included not only physical; but emotional, sexual, and neglect too.
"This was very informative and interactive training, Saldala said. "I now have a different outlook on how to handle these situations, and I'm so thankful of becoming aware of all the resources that exist."
Family Advocacy, Chaplains, and assistants shared their understanding of those type issues and spoke at length about the types of resources that were available in the community -- both on post and off.
One of the take aways from the training was that chaplains and chaplain assistants were safe to talk to, as they offered absolute confidentiality -- adding they were not mandated reporters.
"We can help people sort these issues and provide sound pastoral care and council often when they are scared and don't trust anyone - the chaplain is a safe person to trust."
In addition, Family Advocacy Program offers many services to support Soldiers and Family readiness and resiliency. They offer classes and training including New Parent support, Sexual Assault Prevention, Victim Advocacy and more. They can be reached at (912) 767-5058.
Two hotlines have been established to assist in Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention, and Domestic Violence, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
The SHARP hotline is (912) 271-9958 at Fort Stewart, or (912) 271-9878 at Hunter. The Victim Advocacy Hotline for Domestic Violence is available at 767-3032 at Stewart, or 315-5343 at Hunter.
Other local resources you can contact for assistance are The 24 hour On-Call Duty Chaplain at 767-8666, The Family Life Chaplain's Office at 767-8549; Behavioral Health at 767-1647; Social Work Service at Winn Army Community Hospital at 767-6773; and/or the Military Police at (912) 767-4264.
Additional assistance can be found at Military One-Source (800) 342-9647 or www.militaryonesource.com; the Rape Crisis Center at (888) 241-7273; and the Tri-County Protective Shelter at (912) 368-9200.
Yadira Shields, Family Advocacy Program Specialist said other community members can help by finding courage to help stand up against Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and child abuse.
Community members can visit www.preventsexualassault.army.mil/pledge, to pledge their support in the fight to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault.