This blog post, courtesy of Vice Adm. William D. French, commander, Navy Installations Command, re-emphasizes the Navy’s ZERO TOLERANCE of sexual assault. Although the goal is year-around observation and compliance fleetwide, the month of April has been specifically targeted to heighten awareness of this counterproductive and destructive behavior. After all, sexual assault “Hurts one. Affects all.”
As you all may know, sexual assault in the military has taken center stage lately. Recent news stories, new data and a changing environment has allowed for better, safer reporting procedures and have shown there is a major sexual assault problem in our ranks.
Last year, there were over 600 sexual assaults in our Navy. This is a problem. Even one assault is too many, yet we have them happening every day within our ranks. This isn’t just something that is happening to some stranger we’ll never meet. Sexual assault is happening to our shipmates. Worse yet, in many instances, they are “blue on blue” attacks, meaning Sailor on Sailor. Sexual assault is hurting our Sailors and affecting us all.
This last week of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, our message is ‘we will not tolerate sexual assault.’ Just as we have zero tolerance for drug use, we have zero tolerance for sexual assault.
We need to ensure our Sailors know support is available 24/7. They should never fear reprisal for reporting sexual assault or seeking help. When Sailors need our help, it is our duty to ensure they have the best resources we can provide them. Shipmates take care of shipmates.
Through the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program, Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) provides a Navy-wide victim support program that promotes a command climate to encourage reporting, prevention and offender accountability. We need to continue educating our men and women on sexual assault prevention, how to reduce the risk of sexual assault, and how to report it if it occurs.
The most important resource we provide to a sexual assault victim is quick, reliable access to assistance 24/7. This month, CNIC will transition to the main DoD Safe Helpline – 1-877-995-5247 – to ensure victims of sexual assault have a rapid, reliable response to their needs with comprehensive support. Victims who contact the DoD Safe Helpline will maintain their right to choose between restricted or unrestricted reporting while they get the help they need.
At CNIC, we are committed to preventing sexual assault and we are dedicated to ensuring victims of sexual assault have access to the resources they need – to include medical care, counseling, and criminal investigation support.
I am asking all of you to help. We need to change attitudes and get engaged at every level. We need our deckplate leaders to step up and ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent sexual assault before it occurs. It not only impacts the victims, but our entire mission. It is time to stand together and commit to zero tolerance of sexual assault in our ranks.