The Navy is observing Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with the theme “Courage.” This week’s focus is “Courage to Prevent.” We asked one of our sexual assault response coordinators to share what it means to have the courage to prevent sexual assault. This is Julia Powell’s story.
As a sexual assault response coordinator, I work with more than 40 volunteer victim advocates and command points of contact to ensure there is proactive awareness and prevention training; and appropriate, victim-sensitive response available to all base personnel.
I constantly challenge our advocates to teach others by example: Listen closely to other’s concerns; speak up; let someone know if they use offensive language or disrespectful tones; and be aware and alert to dangerous trends that may appear. In every way, we must own the problem. Don’t wait for someone else to take action. The solution to prevent sexual assault lies within all of us working together.
Not all victims report their assault because they fear blame, shame, embarrassment, loss of their military career and many other barriers.
Anyone who has the courage to address a dangerous behavior or characteristics of a potential offender can possibly begin to understand and empathize with a victim about their fear if he or she asks for help.
There have always been people in our Navy with the courage to act when someone was in danger, or if a command climate was unsafe. They are the friends, coworkers, family, supervisors, leaders and Sailors who have gained my respect and admiration. They are not deterred from facing a challenge head-on and taking a stand to eliminate this crime that hurts us all.
Sexual assault does hurt and affect us all, and that was the theme for last year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
It strikes me that this year’s campaign added the word “prevention” and moves from simply teaching what sexual assault is, to taking action to eliminate the victimization of those individuals who have made a commitment to serve in the defense of others.
It is never an easy task to address an issue that many of us are uncomfortable discussing, yet it is something that we must have the courage to do because “We Own It, We’ll Solve It, Together.”
Julia Powell serves as the sexual assault response coordinator for Naval Support Activity Mid-South. In 2012, she was selected as the Navy’s Exceptional SARC of the Year. She has also worked as an educator and probation officer serving crime victims.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SexualAssault and #SAAPM.
More information about Navy sexual assault prevention, posters and other tools are posted to Navy Personnel Command’s Sexual Assault and Prevention website.
For help and support in dealing with a sexual assault, resources are available through:
Safe Helpline (for service members):
● Visit safehelpline.org to receive live, one-on-one confidential help with a trained professionals through a secure instant-messaging format.
● Call 1-877-995-5247 to speak with Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support.
● Text your location to 55247 inside the United States or 202-470-5546 outside of the United States to receive automated contact information for the sexual assault response coordinator at your installation or base. A sexual assault victim advocate may be assigned to assist you.
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network:
● Visit https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ for free, confidential and secure help that is just a click away.
● Call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) to speak with trained, professional counselors for advice or support.