By Pfc. Young Ho JungApril 15, 2014
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Sexual Assault Awareness Month officially began with a solemn ceremony held at South Post Chapel, March 31.
The welcoming speech was given by Master Sgt. Latisha Turner, followed by national anthems, and an invocation speech by Maj. Tim Won.
The opening remarks, given by Maj. Gen. Mark Dillon, deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command, highlighted this year's theme.
"Sexual Assault Awareness Month reaffirms our commitment to ending sexual assault within our ranks," said Dillon. "Stopping sexual assault requires all of us to 'Speak Up!,' which is the theme of this year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To prevent sexual assault, we must intervene if we see something. It all starts with speaking up!"
The history of SAAM, which began in the late 70s, was presented by Master Sgt. Gwendolyn Beauford, from Eighth Army G-4.
"In 1976, 'Take Back the Night' marches occurred to protest fear and violence that women had to face at night," said Beauford. "It soon expanded into Europe and throughout the United States. In the early 80s, there were increased interests in coordinating activities to raise awareness of violence against women. After a while, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault took a census to determine the date for a national Sexual Assault Awareness Week and a week in April was selected."
SAAM is observed in April every year. Its priority is to raise people's awareness about the possibility of any kind of sexual assault and teach how they can prevent sexual violence. This year, SAAM aims attention at healthy sexuality and young people.
Guest speaker Capt. Cindy Williams, SHARP program SARC for 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, shared her personal experience and offered words of wisdom to the audience.
"Respect is the most important value in preventing the sexual violence," Williams said. "Without respect for others, people cross boundaries. That is when the lines are blurred between the right and wrong."
For more information, contact Area II Lead Sexual Assault Resource Center at DSN 724-4070.