WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- That's a question we all would like to have the answer to, but the truth is a sexual offender looks like you and me.

I know that last statement is hard to swallow, but it's true.

Do you think that if there was an actual face we could be looking for when talking about sexual offenders that we would associate ourselves, or our children, with him?

I ask this question because there's not a definitive face you can associate with a sexual offender.

A sexual offender is your average Joe and looks and acts just like everyone else. In more than 90 percent of all sexual assault incidents, the offender is someone the victim knows. This could mean the offender is a family member, a friend or an associate, but it's usually someone the victim trusts.

Sexual offenders are often the people in a community that others look up to. This is the same in our Army communities. Sexual offenders know that if they are remarkable at all facets of their profession and are known around their communities as a great person, it'll be that much harder to convince others or a jury that he/she is truly ill or evil enough to commit such a terrible act.

This is another reason why sexual offenders normally target a specific group of individuals as their victims. Sexual offenders know that if they choose a victim who is a person of ill repute in his community or hasn't established himself, it'll be that much easier to convince everyone that they would never do such a thing.

Sexual offenders may say a victim is lying, or just trying to get out of work again.

"You're going to believe his word over mine?" sexual offenders may ask. "We don't even know them," or, "He is an alcoholic (or drug addict) and is never in his right mind anyway, and he sleeps around all the time with numerous partners."

Sexual offenders are depending on you to take their side so that they can get away with their crime. The real sad story is that most of society does take the side of the offender because they want to believe he would never do such a thing because they know him and how great of a person he is.

We, as a community, need to be smarter than sexual offenders, and we need to know that they are playing off the perceived truths we've made of them through time, but really, they are the absolute best at manipulating people into believing what they want them to think.

So, remember, you may be being manipulated, and sometimes our truths of others are really just the truths of the first persona they want you to see and recognize every day.

It takes the courage and strength of a warrior to report a sexual assault. It takes a true leader to put aside his biases and ensure that victims of sexual assault receive help immediately.

- Help 24/7

To reach credentialed personnel who can provide immediate assistance, call the USARHAW SHARP 24-hour hotline at (808) 655-9474, or visit the SHARP Resource Center, Bldg. 692, 3585 McCornack Road, Schofield Barracks.

To reach the DOD Safe Helpline, call toll free to (877) 995-5247.