By Sgt. Matthew Farwell/Office of the TRADOC CSMMarch 25, 2009
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (TRADOC News Service, March 23, 2009) - In this Year of the NCO, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Command Sgt. Maj. David Bruner had invited four young men to come and deliver a powerful message for the command's senior enlisted advisers to take back and use to train their Soldiers. Their presentation began with a chilling statistic: one out of every four college women has survived rape or attempted rape.
This was Bruner's second time watching the presentation. In December, he and TRADOC's deputy commanding general, Lt. Gen. David Valcourt, viewed the presentation at the TRADOC headquarters.
"These young men make you think about rape," said Valcourt. "They have the ability to make you understand the experience in a powerful way. This is a very effective way to teach leadership how to help a victim of a sexual assault."
The students from One-in-Four were used to presenting "The Men's Program" to college students in fraternities, athletic facilities and classrooms on university campuses throughout the nation. They initially felt the difference in a room of senior Soldiers.
"It can certainly be a bit more intimidating in this type of environment," said J.T. Newberry, one of the One-in-Four presenters. "I continue to be impressed by the reaction we're getting from Soldiers. You can tell that they want to learn more about what they can do to help, whether they've been personally affected by this issue or not."
The One-in-Four team then defined rape in clear terms: sexual intercourse with another person that is against that person's will by force, threat or intimidation; sexual intercourse with a child under the legal age of consent; or sexual intercourse with a mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person.
The sergeants major then viewed a chilling police training video. In the video, a veteran detective describes a brutal male-on-male rape scene and goes on to examine the after-effects for the victim. The video was shocking and intended to provoke empathy in even the most hardened audience members.
"It was like watching one of those blood-on-the-highway videos back in high school," remarked Bruner. "It sticks with you and really makes you think."
After watching the video, the One-in-Four presentation focused on how a man can help a sexual-assault survivor. Taking cues from the scene described by the detective, the presenters led the sergeants major through ways a man who is approached by a rape survivor can help: by encouraging, but not forcing, medical attention; talking less and listening more; believing the victim; and encouraging the victim to see a mental-health counselor.
They also gave suggestions on a key point for Soldiers: no more violence.
"The initial reaction for most men, most Soldiers, if a friend or family member told me, would be to go take care of the guy who hurt her," said Sgt. 1st Class Guillermo Fontanez, who works as Bruner's executive officer. "They showed how that can actually be more harmful to the victim."
The survivor of the assault, the One-in-Four team explained, has seen enough violence, and by continuing the cycle of violence in "taking care of the problem," the survivor can actually lose trust in the man she initially approached.
The team also gave common-sense advice on how men can help keep themselves from sexually assaulting someone. Communication is the key: cooperation does not always equal consent, particularly when alcohol is a factor. Men have to pay attention to non-verbal cues like "the freeze," know when they or their partner have had too much to drink, and watch out for friends at bars or in situations that seem risky.
The team challenged the sergeants major to help change social norms about rape and sexual assault, even in small, seemingly insignificant everyday language.
"Even something like saying 'that test raped me' is a problem," explained Joe Bertini, one of the presenters. "When you really think about it, those statements are ridiculous. Rape is a really strong word that describes one of the most horrible violations a person can experience. No test does that."
Dr. John Foubert of Oklahoma State University and founder of One-in-Four recently testified before the House Armed Services Committee that "the Men's Program is the only program in history where men who see it subsequently commit less sexual assault than men who don't. It is the only program ever to document behavior change in sexual assault committed by young men."
The message impressed the leaders in attendance. Command Sgt. Maj Patrick Laidlaw, Army Capabilities Integration Center, called the training "spot on," adding, "it needs to be instituted into the training base for both male and female students."
Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell of the U.S. Army Armor Center saw the potential as well. "This is something we need to focus on," he said. "We need to teach this starting with the Warrior Leader's Course and continue through the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. It will open the eyes of the junior leader who can make a difference."
"We're going to bring this training to Fort Eustis," said Command Sgt. Maj. Dwayne Perry of the U.S. Army Transportation Center and School. "It is powerful and relevant and relates to today's Soldier."
"These are a very impressive young Americans," said Bruner. "They don't have much in common with a group of command sergeants major, but they're volunteers, like us. They serve like us and ultimately we share the same goal: to keep our fellow Americans safe from harm."
If you would like to learn more about One-in-Four, log on to http://www.oneinfourusa.org/.