The power to change sexual assault begins with awareness

By Bonnie A. RobinsonApril 26, 2016

Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Col. Sean Kirschner, Dugway's commander signs the Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation as Command Sgt. Maj. Montonya Boozier and Donald Smith, Garrison manager pen their signatures to the National Child Abuse Prevention proclamation April 4 at... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah -- Col. Sean Kirschner, Dugway's commander, Donald Smith, garrison manager and Command Sgt. Maj. Montonya Boozier signed the Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Proclamations April 4 at the Command Headquarters building in English Village. Their signature demonstrate their commitment to stand against the harassment and abuse of women, girls, men and boys.

"This is a small symbol of our commitment to eliminate sexual violence and to reassure victims of sexual assault that they will be treated with dignity and respect, if they come forward and report. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are repugnant crimes that go against our core values," Kirschner said. "They will never be tolerated in our Army nor here at Dugway."

The Army's definition of Sexual Assault is "any unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact of any kind, including any use of force, threats, intimidation, or abuse of authority when the victim does not, or cannot, consent.

"Sexual assault and harassment are undisciplined, unprofessional and incompatible with Army Values. Sexual assault is a criminal offense that has no place in the Army," said Dugway's Command Sgt. Major Montonya Boozier.

Both Sexual Assault and Child Abuse are shocking in their numbers.

According to the Department of Justice more than a quarter of a million people are sexually assaulted each year in the United States. But only 30 percent of these assault cases are reported to authorities.

Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families reported 702,000 cases of child abuse, neglect or maltreatment that were reported in 2014 by public social service agencies.

Abuse can happen anywhere to any child. Fear, anxiety, depression, aggression or withdrawal, not wanting to go home, or appearing afraid of certain individuals might be signs. Other signs may include bruises, cuts, fatigue, concentration problems, a sudden weight gain or loss, according to website.

What can an average person do to participate in this campaign?

Here are five easy ways:

1. Reach out to those who suffer from sexual assault

It's never too late to show concern. Learn more about supporting anyone who is affected. For those who need help now, the National Sexual Assault Hotline can provide confidential help, 24/7: 1-800-656-HOPE.

At Dugway, Rick Cave is the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or SARC. He can be reached at (435) 831- 2739.

2. Look to protect

Children often will not talk about abuse or neglect. Be a voice for the voiceless. Greg Mason Director, Army Community Service is a trained professional that can help through the Army Community Service for reporting. He can be reached at (435) 831-2834 or (435)-849-1238.

3. Make Your Voice Heard.

Think about contacting your Congressional leaders. Encourage their support in legislation to improve the criminal justice system, support survivors and bring sexual predators to justice.

4. Volunteer. Looking to donate your time? Consider Army Community Service who has specialists waiting to help. Outside of Dugway, consider volunteering at abused women's shelters or local rape crisis centers.

5. Get Social. Social media is a great way to share information and advocate all month long. Watch for stories about these issues, including this one.

"As we reaffirm our commitment to shift the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered and unpunished, and redouble our efforts to prevent this human rights violation from happening in the first place, we are taking a stand to say: Not in our Army, Not in my squad," Boozier said.

Everyone has the power to help make the change. It can start with one person. Make the commitment to help prevent sexual assault. Speak up, be the change.