Aviation sexual assault response coordinator stresses eliminating sexual assaults goes beyond the month of April

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Katrina Leverette has worked in the sexual assault field within the Department of Defense for the past eight years, first as a contractor then as a government civilian. She said it’s her calling.

“My passion has always been to support people who have been victimized in one way or the other, so this type of position is the prime opportunity to do what I love with a group of people that I love to serve. So for me, it was a “win win,” she said.  

Leverette has been the sexual assault response coordinator for Defense Logistics Agency Aviation in Richmond, Virginia since 2016.

Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, threat, abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. This includes: rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, or any attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship, or age of the victim.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Each year at this time, campaigns are run to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.

According to the DLA Sexual Assault Prevention and Response website, sexual assault is a crime punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as state and federal laws.

Here are the sobering statistics about sexual assault in the United States, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

• One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.

• In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.

• Fifty-one % of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.

• Fifty-two % of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15% by a stranger.

• Almost half (49.5%) of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native women were subjected to some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.

• Ninty-one % of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male.

• In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.

• Eight % of rapes occur while the victim is at work.

Leverette said she has dealt with situations where both men and women were sexually assaulted.

“My role gives me the privilege to be a voice for the voiceless, to support the under-supported. If there is any real satisfaction that could be assigned to sexual assault, I guess it would be that people are no longer doomed to a life of silence, regret and turmoil. There are options readily available to them,” Leverette said.

As Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes to an end, Leverette said awareness and prevention shouldn’t stop with the flip of a calendar page.

“It is very important that we recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, but it’s very important that we acknowledge the prevalence of sexual assault on daily basis. There is no stopping prevention and awareness. One month is designated as the staple month for events and exercises, but does not minimize the roles we as a community must play daily to prevent it,” she said. 

Sexual Assault and Prevention Resources:

Defense Logistics Agency SAPR Hotline: 1-800-841-0937. A 24-hour, seven days a week hotline that will be answered by a credentialed DLA SARC who is able to make referrals, provide accompaniment services and non-clinical crisis intervention.

Department of Defense Safe Helpline: 1-877-995-5247. A crisis support service specially designed to provide live, one-on-one support to sexual assault survivors, their loved ones, and anyone within the DoD community looking for more information. All Safe Helpline services are confidential, anonymous, secure and available worldwide, providing survivors with the help they need, anytime, anywhere.