At an event designed to draw attention to National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention (SHARP) Month, Fort Knox hosted the inaugural SHARP Cup Field Meet at Fort Knox's Flipper Field April 10.
Dr. Rushaunda Farmer, Fort Knox Garrison Sexual Assault Response coordinator, said the event is the first of its kind here and that she hopes it will continue to shed light on this issue.
Maj. Gen. John Evans Jr., commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, started the festivities on a somber note with the signing of the 2019 SHARP Proclamation whose theme read in part.
"We're building a culture of trust. Protecting our people protects our mission. Building upon a foundation of trust and respect, we reinforce our determination to take the offensive in the fight against sexual assault."
Evans added that the words of the proclamation ring hollow unless Soldiers decide to be men and women of action.
"[The signing of the proclamation] is largely symbolic, but it's a testament that we are taking this problem seriously," Evans said. "I want you to get a little bit mad. I want you to get a little indignant about the fact that we still have sexual assault that permeates our ranks.
"Address teammates who start to err. Step in, and do something about it."
The SHARP Cup Field Meet immediately followed the proclamation signing and included teams from across the installation.
"[While] it's mainly athletic events, it's not all about brawn," Farmer said. "These events are also about teamwork and dealing with issues together.
"We're letting survivors know they have a team who are in this fight with them."
According to Farmer, events like this are important because they educate people on subject matter that is not always discussed openly in an interactive and engaging fashion.
"Sexual assault is a taboo topic that no one wants to talk about," Farmer said. "If you say, 'we're going to talk about SHARP,' people think 'death by PowerPoint' and they're not coming out for that, but tell them we're having an athletic event in support of SHARP -- and you'll at least get them to the door."
According to Farmer, events like this help to reduce stigmas and inform our community about available resources.
"So, let's really have that conversation … so we can get to the part where, 'what happened to me wasn't OK, but it's certainly OK for me to get the assistance I need, and there are people fighting this fight beside me.'"
Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Ewingsudds, noncommissioned officer in charge of the of the field meet, said the events of the day were intended to build camaraderie and resolve an issue that affects the whole team.
"These events are hard to do, and they'll require a team. The struggle for survivors is not easy," said Ewingsudds. "We want to let them know they have a team, they have people here that want to help.
"We want to give them their power back -- to show them they don't have to be a victim, they can be a victor."