News | April 21, 2017

Program offers food for thought on sexual assaults

By Tim Hoyle Disposition Services

Defense Logistics Agency employees in Battle Creek, Michigan, shared some tea and information about sexual assault, the impact on victims, and how we can support those affected as part of April’s event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Robin Rogers said attendees were able to enjoy about 12 different varieties of tea at the Teal Tea event served in real china tea cups along with platters of delectable cookies, chocolates, and other treats as they listened to remarks from Laurie Hartman, a community educator for the Sexual Assault Services program at the Bronson Battle Creek Hospital, and Angela Tomasko, a victim’s rights trainer for the Prosecuting Attorney Association of Michigan.

Hartman presented information about the impact of sexual assault and services available for victims in the local community.  She also brought t-shirts to display as part of The Clothesline Project.  The project is a visual display of art created on t-shirts by survivors of physical, sexual and emotional violence to express their feelings and stories of abuse and survival.

Tomasko shared her personal story of survival and healing after enduring a sexual assault on Mother's Day 1998 by a serial rapist.  She asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine being home, asleep in bed, and continued to provide a first-hand account of her assault and the aftermath.  Her remarks shared her experience with law enforcement, the hospital, and the legal system and the impact the assault had on her life as well as the lives of her family members and friends. 

“Her story was very authentic, relatable, and inspiring.” Rogers said. “She had the ability to increase understanding without being morose, and she even shared laughs about some of her erratic behaviors after the assault.”

Rogers said attendees also learned from a "Tea Consent" awareness video, which she described as a humorous and entertaining message about understanding the need to have consent for sex by using the analogy of not forcing someone to drink tea. She said the event also provided an overview of the DLA’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, education on understanding consent, and an awareness of victim support. 

“The event also contributes to DLA's commitment to an organizational climate of safety and resiliency. In addition, participants earned 100 points for the SAPR Virtual Challenge,” Rogers said.

An important lesson Rogers hopes attendees learned from the event is that a sexual assault not only hurts the victim but impacts everyone - friends, family, co-workers and the mission. 

“The impact of one assault can last years,” Rogers said. “DLA has made great progress in being able to provide prevention education and victim support, services, and resources.”

Based on recommendations from attendees, Rogers said there are plans to offer the Teal Tea event next year.