WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. – The Army is dedicated to creating a culture of trust for all Soldiers, Civilians, and Family Members. One vital aspect of that trust comes from the Army’s emphasis on the prevention of sexual assault and harassment.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM). This year the theme is "Building Cohesive Teams through Character, Trust, and Resilience. Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission." White Sands Missile Range is supporting this month through its Army Community Services office with activities and knowledge sharing.
“The importance of SAAPM is to bring awareness and education to the community that sexual assaults continue to occur, and through collective efforts and awareness. Through these efforts, we can prevent and respond to sexual assaults and support survivors," said Linda Crosby, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at White Sands Missile Range. "Everyone can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens. Individuals can also embrace their voices to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, and promote everyday consent and bystander intervention.”
The month of April is not the only time the Army focuses on sexual assault, sexual harassment, and associated retaliatory behaviors; it is year-round. This month is just a time to reemphasize and remind the Army team about the ongoing efforts and how it remains a top priority. It serves as a reminder of how the Army is focused on prevention and reporting.
Commanders are working toward creating a healthy work environment where sexual misconduct is not tolerated. They are also stressing the importance of reporting and holding people accountable for their actions. In addition, there should be no fear of retaliation when it comes to reporting an incident. Between FY17 and FY18 the total Army sexual assault reporting increased by 12.5 percent.
“The WSMR SHARP Office provides resources and referrals for victims of sexual assault in support of Service Members, Civilians, and Family Members over the age of 18,” said Crosby. “We ensure victims receive all needed guidance and emotional support during administrative, medical, investigative, and legal procedures, and that they understand the processes involved through a coordinated community response.”
Denim Day is observed on April 29 each year in recognition of a case involving sexual assault. Denim Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1999, but the origin of it dates back to 1992 in Italy when an 18-year old girl takes her first driving lesson, taught by a 45-year old man. During the lesson, the instructor rapes her. He is convicted of rape and sentenced. He appeals, and the Italian Supreme Court hears the case. The case gets overturned, and the instructor is released.
In a statement by the Italian Chief Judge, he argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”
Denim Day is significant in helping combat the ‘erroneous and destructive attitudes and myths surrounding sexual assault.’ People around the world are encouraged to wear jeans annually to show their support symbolically.
“By participating in Denim Day this April, everyone can play a role in the prevention of sexual violence,” said Crosby. “We ask Soldiers and Civilians to make a social statement with their fashion and wear denim as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault and support survivors.”
You can reach the WSMR SHARP 24/7 Hotline at 575-993-0589 or the DoD Safe Helpline 24/7/365 at 877-995-5247.