Preventing sexual harassment, assault everyone’s responsibility

By Beth Reece

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Employees must play an active role in creating a safe and supportive workplace, Defense Logistics Agency Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch said in a recent blog highlighting the prevention of sexual harassment and assault.

“As individuals, we can intervene to stop bad behavior when we see it happening,” he said. “We can support and practice healthy attitudes and relationships. And, when someone tells us there is a problem, we will believe them and help them find support.”

“Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know Your Part, Do Your Part” is the theme for this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, observed in communities across America in April. Though sexual violence in college and military populations is frequently highlighted by media, the issue affects all segments of society and is one of the nation’s most underreported crimes, said Renee Ferranti, who manages DLA’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds. Additional RAINN statistics indicate that 68 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, and 98 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail or prison.

Employees will have several opportunities this month to learn how to prevent sexual violence. Information will be available in the McNamara Headquarters Complex cafeteria 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Tuesday, with topics including self-care, local resources, service-specific resources, and the difference between sexual assault and harassment and specific steps to take for each one.

Employees and their families are also invited to participate in a 5K run/walk co-hosted by DLA’s SAPR Program and the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on Friday, April 15 at 7:00 a.m. Registration begins on-site at 6:30 a.m. at Gunston Road and 14th Street.

Sexual assault coordinators and victim advocates are available 24 hours, seven days a week at DLA Headquarters and the agency’s field activities to assist military and civilian employees who’ve been victims of sexual assault. Advocates are trained and certified through the Defense Department’s SAPR Program. Their goal is to provide stability and support from the victim’s first call for help all the way through a criminal investigation if there is one.

Advocates’ first step is usually helping victims understand their reporting options, Ferranti said. Service members have two: restricted, which provides victim confidentiality and does not trigger an official investigation; or unrestricted, which does lead to an investigation. The reporting, investigative and legal processes are different for civilian employees, but DLA’s victim advocates are prepared to assist both, Ferranti added.

Employees who’ve been sexually assaulted can get immediate, confidential help by calling 877-995-5247. More information about the DoD SAPR Program is available at http://www.sapr.mil. Additional resources and links are available at http://www.dla.mil/Info/SAPR.aspx.