USAG YONGSAN - Russell W. Strand, a retired U.S. Army CID Federal Special Agent with an excess of 38 years in law enforcement, investigative, and consultation experience, invited subject matter experts, professionals and the entire community to join him in a candid conversation about how it is possible for people to treat others with dignity and respect with just a slight change in culture, May 30, at the Yongsan Multi-purpose Training Facility (MPTF).
Strand has specialized expertise, experience and training in the area of domestic violence intervention, critical incident peer support, and sexual assault. Strand has also assisted in the development and implementation of Department of Defense (DOD) training standards, programs of instruction, and lesson plans for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC), victim advocates, and health professionals. He is now the Chief of the U.S. Army Military Police School Behavioral Sciences Education &Training Division and continues to give lectures on to effect cultural changes.
Russell started off his presentation by introducing examples of cultural changes throughout the past decades. The first incident he talked about was the influence of science development on the smoking culture. Unlike the cigarette advertisements depicting cigarettes as a positive habit 20 years ago, today, there are public advertisements that urge people to quit smoking as scientific results have proven smoking to be fatal. The culture toward gender has changed as well. Twenty years ago, Army recruiting advertisements used good-looking females to grab men's attention. Now, the Army recruits women as much as men. Moreover, the Army has eliminated racism and created a new culture of integration as the number one value of Soldiers. All of these examples prove that people are capable of changing the culture. "We change all the time," he said, emphasizing how significant and powerful culture change is, and that it can be used to eliminate sexual assault.
At the crux of Russell's presentation was the difficult question, "Why can't we change our culture of understanding sexual assault?" Most of the time, suspects are the ones who are investigated in any other crime incidents. However, people tend to investigate the victims instead of the perpetrators during a sexual assault. Russell stated that this culture is currently leaving victims to fear the aftermath of reporting, which can be either retaliation from the suspect or isolation from society. When this distorted culture meets a change, there can certainly be a reduction towards sexual assault.