NEWS | April 25, 2013

April draws to end, SAAPM continues

By Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Hallford Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and as it nears its last day, the education, awareness and culture of prevention and response endure beyond the events sponsored during the teal-ribboned campaign.

April brought many SAAPM-themed sporting events, including 5k runs on both the Air Base and Weapons Station, volleyball tournaments and dodgeball tournaments , as well as informational booths, message from survivors t-shirt displays and more. However, the uniting factor for every event was sexual assault awareness and prevention.

"This month rejuvenates me and allows our victim advocates and other volunteers to engage with service members," said Tiffany Mizzell, JB Charleston - Weapons Station Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "Furthermore, we introduce ourselves, educate others and show our support to our military community."

The Department of Defense theme, "We own it ... We'll solve it ... Together," is further supported by the Navy's addendum: "Courage... including the remaining Courage to Support and Courage to Commit ."

However, according to the latest available Department of the Navy statistics, more than two sexual assaults are reported each day within the Navy, and for fiscal year 2011, 408 unrestricted reports and 174 restricted reports were made .

"We need to continue the awareness and prevention efforts that this campaign has inspired," said Mizzell. "These aspects of the program will only last if education remains a priority, and if we challenge each other to be active bystanders and intervene, or step in and act, when necessary."

Approximately two-thirds of the reports obtained by the Navy are of servicemember-on-servicemember, while an estimated 40 percent of Sailors remain silent about this crime, according to Mizzell. This number may actually under represent those going unreported, as the U.S. Department of Justice estimate is about 54 percent. Additional statistics show about four percent of Navy active-duty females, or nearly 8,600, and one percent of Navy active-duty males, or 10,700 sexual assaults, occurred according to anonymous reporting Navy surveys.

"SAAPM gives our survivors a voice, and just because the month is about to end, doesn't mean an end to that voice expect it to speak throughout the year," said Mizzell.

The DOD has created a confidential, anonymous, live, one-on-one sexual assault helpline for the community. The DOD Safe Helpline provides crisis Support for adult survivors affected by sexual assault. The national toll free option is (877)-995-5247, via internet at www.safehelpline.org, by texting 55-247 or calling (202)-470-5546 from outside the United States. Local options are 24-hours a day, seven-days a week and are available at (843)-478-8615 for Navy support and (843)-963-7272 for Air Force support.