Awareness, education reduces sexual assault risk

1st Lt. Chrystal Smith
Kaiserslautern American

According to a report from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network,
someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes
and more than 70 percent of victims know their assailant. While
research has identified certain consistencies in sexual assaults cases,
potential victims can never be sure that they are not going to be a

Members of the military also sometimes become victims of sexual
assault.  A goal of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault
Response Program is to eliminate sexual assault and any environment
that fosters it throughout the Department of Defense.

“Prevention by education,” said Capt. Michael D. Landers, 38th Combat
Support Wing sexual assault response coordinator-Sembach.  “Our
goal here in the KMC is to inform all military members about sexual
assault through education and outreach.”

Studies show several trends and commonalities in reported military
sexual assault cases –the presence of alcohol or drugs, the age range
is usually 18-25 and place is the dormitory, barracks or in the
victim’s home.  
Being equipped with the proper tools can lower the risk of being a victim of sexual assault.

KMC sexual assault response counselors offer tips in hopes of lowering the risks for targeted persons.

“It is important to always have a plan,” said Captain Landers. “Know who you are able to trust whenever you make plans.”  

SARP counselors recommend traveling in groups or with trusted buddies
like Wingmen, friends, or family members, as there is better safety in
One can avoid potentially bad situations by staying sober, never
leaving a drink unattended, and by educating oneself about date rape
drugs.  One should always plan safe routes for traveling and
establish good security practices like walking in only well-lit areas
after dark and keeping the doors to homes, barracks, and cars locked at
all times. In the event of an emergency, ensure you know where pay
phones are located or carry a reliable and fully charged cell phone.

Being alert and assertive are other components in prevention. Coun-
selors advise that you trust your instincts. If a place or person seems
unsafe, it probably is. If you sense trouble, get to a safe place with
a lot of people as soon as possible. Beware of strangers in restricted
areas or persons lurking in places they should not be and report any
unauthorized or suspicious people to the appropriate authorities. Avoid
situations that may provoke attackers. For example, do not dress or
undress in front of an open window.

Purposed communication is another way of derailing attackers.  Be
clear in what you say; especially in intimate situations with another
person.  Bottom line is no means no. If you are uncomfortable or
someone is trying to make you do something you do not wish to do, use a
confident voice and body posture, matching your body language to your
words and tell them to stop.
All things considered, proper preparation, awareness and communication play a large part in significantly reducing the risks.