By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 6, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- April is both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Fort Rucker wants to make sure its population knows that people are here to help.
That's why Fort Rucker Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program team members did their part to bring awareness to child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention through the SHARP Car Wash in conjunction with 1st Warrant Officer Company Class 17-10, as well as the Fort Rucker Ribbon 5K Run April 1.
"For the military and our community, we need to make sure that we're protecting our Soldiers, our families and children," said Twanna Johnson, garrison sexual assault response coordinator. "This is important because we cannot tolerate domestic violence, child abuse or sexual assault. It takes away from the mission and takes away from morale, so for us to be able to get this out here and bring recognition to the issues and make people aware of what's going on is important."
During the run, participants donned ribbons to bring awareness to each of the issues: teal for sexual assault, blue for child abuse and purple for domestic violence.
The warrant officer candidates of Class 17-10 adopted teal as their class color in recognition of sexual assault prevention to help bring awareness to the cause, which Johnson said is an important part of the fight against sexual assault.
Johnson said that for some it can be difficult for them to seek help because they feel that they've already been victimized by the assault, but it's important for those people to stand up and seek that help.
"There are people out there that will help them," she said. "We are trying to get out here in the community to let those people know that there is no shame to this at all. It's difficult, but there is no shame.
"If you feel like you need to talk to someone, we are here with dedicated victim advocates and helping professionals," she continued. "That's the entire point of these events -- to get that awareness out there. Having these runs, having training sessions and working with the WOCs -- this is partnering with everyone in our community to let them know that when they come to us, we're going to help you."
For many who participated in the events, like Riley Turner, military spouse, the significance of getting information out to the public can't be understated.
"This is always something that needs to be at the forefront of people's minds, I think," she said. "It's not an easy subject to talk about for a lot of people, but if people are afraid to talk about it, I think people will be afraid to come forward to look for help.
"Some people might see these events as small or even insignificant, but for someone who has been through that kind of trauma, this level of support is tremendous," she continued. "Just being able to see that this many people can come out to support them could mean the difference between whether someone seeks help or not. I think bringing awareness to these issues truly saves lives, and I want to be able to help out in any way that I can."
Johnson agreed, and added that if people need the help, they should seek it any way they can.
For issues with child abuse or domestic violence, people should call the family advocacy program at 255-3898. For sexual assault, people can call the 24-hour SHARP hotline at 334-470-6629.