By Christine June (USAG Kaiserslautern)March 18, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Leaders - military and civilian - will be stressing education, awareness and prevention of sexual assault during several events planned here for the month of April.
April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month since 2001.
"It's one month - 30 days - out of the year that's (nationally) dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault and educating people on prevention strategies," said Megan Roberts, the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Sexual Assault Response coordinator.
The Army's newly launched I.A.M. (Intervene, Act and Motivate) Strong Campaign will play heavily in the garrison's SAAM events, said Roberts.
"With I.A.M. Strong, the focus has turned much more to the prevention of sexual assault and how important it is to combat it in our Army," said Roberts. "We will be implementing I.A.M. Strong into everything we do this month."
Roberts and the garrison's Victim Advocate Coordinator Lisa Velez have teamed up to hosts events designed to reach as many people in the community as possible.
First is "Sex Signals," which takes place 9 a.m. March 24 at the Galaxy Theatre on Vogelweh. It is billed as a Soldier training with a target audience of E-1 to E-4, ages 18 to 26.
"Sex Signals" very much engages the audience who are the integral part of the learning process," said Velez. "The audience chooses their own adventure."
Ultimately, this Soldier training creates critical dialogue among audiences that is necessary to dissolve enduring rape myths and encourage thoughtful, accountable and intimate behavior, said Velez.
Next is the Clothesline Project, a traveling ongoing exhibit that will be displayed for a two-week period throughout the month at dining facilities on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Kleber Kaserne and Rhine Ordnance Barracks.
Started in the KMC last year, the Clothesline Project is a vehicle for victims and others affected by violence can express their emotions by decorating a shirt. Last year's display had 23 shirts. Many of these shirts will again be on display along with any new ones from this year.
Victims can express their emotions either by writing or drawing. Markers and instructions are included with the shirts in the Clothesline Project packages, which can be picked up at several locations throughout the KMC.
"Last year, we actually had someone write the story (of the attack) on it and that was quite powerful," said Roberts. "One had a broken CD taped all over it, and another had camouflage that had been ripped and then taped on the shirt."
Russell Strand, the U.S. Army Military Police School Family Advocacy Law Enforcement Training Program chief, will be presenting a briefing for first-responders who handle sexual assault cases in the community on April 2 at the Woodlawn Golf Course on Ramstein Air Base.
Also started last year in the KMC was the joint Air Force and Army sponsored SAAM five-kilometer awareness run and one-kilometer walk. This year's event will start 3 p.m. April 17 at the Ramstein Southside Gym. Last year, more than 1,000 community members participated in the event, said Roberts.
Rounding out the garrison's SAAM activities is the Shine the Light Walk that will start 7 p.m. April 30 at the youth center on Vogelweh Housing.
"You shine the light because a lot of sexual assaults and violence toward women are at night so in theory (by doing this walk) you make it safer and take back the power from the predators," said Roberts.
Other activities include passing I. A.M. Strong information out at Army installation access gates on April 15. A self-defense class is scheduled for April 9 at the Kleber gym.