Info fair kicks off month of sexual assault awareness and prevention at DSCC

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) formally kicked off at the Defense Supply Center Columbus during an information fair held inside Building 20. The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime's FMWR Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office planned the April 6 event to showcase weekly activities taking place throughout the month.

A series of displays dedicated to each activity including a 5k run, golf course events, a group walk, and a day to prevent “victim blaming” provided information for civilian, contractor, and military attendees. The various events provide multiple opportunities for DLA associates to take part in the awareness campaign and express their support.

Family advocacy program manager and sexual assault response coordinator Shari Murnahan helped organize the info fair and feels optimistic about the positive impact the event will have on the DSCC community.

“It’s important for associates to educate themselves on the resources that are available to them,” Murnahan said. “In the event they or one of their coworkers have issues or concerns, there are multiple resources available in the community, and that’s what this resource fair is all about.”

Murnahan added that both men and women can be victims of sexual assault and there are support services and reporting options available for all victims, regardless of their situation. In addition to details about upcoming awareness events in April, the information fair also promoted services that are available throughout the year.

The Department of Defense’s commitment to the treatment and care of victims of sexual assault began in 2004 with the creation of the Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. The Task Force established a policy which provided a foundation for the DoD to improve prevention of sexual assault and significantly enhanced support to victims through increased accountability and reporting options.  

That commitment continues to this day, with DLA’s month of activities and events to raise awareness about the problem of sexual assault as well as increase understanding about the support resources offered by the agency and its partner organizations in the community.

One of those activities was the “Walk-a Lap for a Survivor” event on April 13. Service members and DSCC associates completed laps around the installation’s Mission Park in a show of solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.   

The events continue with a 5k run/walk on April 20. The friendly race begins at the DSCC fitness center with the theme of “Taking Steps Against Violence.” Prior to and after the run participants will learn about actions and language that constitute victim blaming and the negative effects associated with this behavior.  

The month of awareness culminates April 27 with “Denim Day” and activities on the DSCC golf course. Associates are authorized and encouraged to wear denim to reinforce the concept that there is never an invitation or alibi for rape.

The tradition of wearing denim to express support for victims of sexual assault began with public outcry over a 1998 legal defense. An Italian court determined a young woman’s jeans indicated her consent to be sexually assaulted because they were too tight to be removed without her assistance. That decision was eventually overturned, but not before Denim Day became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes justifying sexual assault.

The SAPR program provides advocacy services and resources that support victim recovery and works to reduce the incidents of sexual assault while striving to remove the shame associated with reporting sexual violence.

Air Force Master Sgt. Maggie Ladd has been a SAPR victim advocate for three years, first as a service representative and now as liaison for military personnel at DLA. She says anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, and it’s important for everyone to be aware and understand the seriousness of the issue.

“Awareness is key. It’s important because people may say things in daily conversation without realizing that a victim may be in the room,” Ladd said. “The language that we use can have an impact on our coworkers and we may not even realize it. We should always treat everyone around us with dignity, sensitivity, and respect.”   
 
For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month events at DSCC, visit the DLA FMWR SAAPM page at: https://dsccmwr.com/saapm/.
For anonymous sexual assault assistance, visit the DoD Safe Helpline website at: www.safehelpline.org or call 877-995-5247.