WIESBADEN, Germany –Our Wiesbaden community is dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault every day of the year, but each April we do something a little different to bring light to this important issue. We have dedicated this month to raise awareness about sexual violence and to recommit ourselves to fighting it.
A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape are recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries but sadly does not include an estimate of the many unreported cases.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police in the United States. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported. In the U.S. military only 43 percent of female victims and 10 percent of male victims reported the crimes.
As a community of military, civilian professionals and family members, we must develop meaningful strategies to eliminate these crimes. This includes increasing awareness of the problem within our ranks and community, creating systems that protect those most vulnerable and sharing successful prevention strategies. We must support victims, prevent future violence and prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law.
We must focus on this fight every day, not only during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Moreover, we must strive to make a real change in our culture, one that promotes dignity and respect.
It is essential to learn how to intervene in a way that is appropriate for the situation and your comfort level. Being an active bystander can make all the difference and save lives.
Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place. Cut off the conversation with a diversion like, “Let’s get pizza, I’m starving,” or “This party is lame. Let’s try somewhere else.” Bring out fresh food or drinks and offer them to everyone at the party, including the people you are concerned about. Start an activity that draws other people in, like a game, a debate, etc.
Talk directly to the person who might be in trouble. Ask questions like “Who did you come here with?” or “Would you like me to stay with you?”
Sometimes the safest way to intervene is to refer to a neutral party with the authority to change the situation, like Charge of Quarters staff or security guard. Talk to a security guard, bartender, or another employee about your concerns. It’s in their best interest to ensure that their patrons are safe, and they will usually be willing to step in. Don’t hesitate to call 112 if you are concerned for someone else’s safety.
It can be intimidating to approach a situation alone. Enlist another person to support you. Ask someone to come with you to approach the person at risk. When it comes to expressing concern, sometimes there is power in numbers. Ask someone to intervene in your place. For example, you could ask someone who knows the person at risk to escort them to the bathroom. Enlist the friend of the person you’re concerned about. “Your friend looks like they’ve had a lot to drink. Can you check on them?”