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April is Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Month - if you see something, say something.

Photo by Mary Chipman

WHY WE NEED SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH

3 Apr 2013 | By Mary Chipman

Once a year in April, crime victim organizations across the country join forces to bring attention to a horrific crime most of us would rather not think about: sexual assault.   The color teal is used to represent this cause, often in ribbons or bracelets worn by supporters.  Expect to see lots of teal around MCAS Yuma this month.

Year ‘round in Yuma, we’ve been ahead of this trend with regular trainings about sexual assault in a variety of settings.  Uniformed Victim Advocates, Commanders, and others are training so thoroughly that virtually every Marine is expected to learn exactly what sexual assault entails, why it is not acceptable and how to prevent it if they see it happening.  Yet tragically, sexual assaults continue to occur to our Marines, here and elsewhere.   At the highest levels, officials recognize that sexual assault is still a problem and are calling for an immediate stop to it.

In proclaiming April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, President Barack Obama noted that, “Just as we keep fighting sexual assault in our neighborhoods, we must also recommit to ending it in our military – because no one serving our country should be at risk of assault by a fellow service member.  Where this crime does take place, it cannot be tolerated; victims must have access to support, and offenders must face the consequences of their actions.”

The Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos has also been firm in his call for an end to sexual assault. In his 2012 Sexual Assault Campaign Plan he stated, “Let me be clear on how I view this and where I stand.  Sexual assault is an ugly mark on our proud reputation; it goes against everything we claim to be as United States Marines … we must reinforce the message that it’s every Marine’s inherent duty to step up and step in to prevent sexual assault.”

Why do we need Sexual Assault Awareness Month?  We need it until there is an end to sexual assault and until every single one of us is willing to take action to stop this horrific crime.  Sexual assault: We own it … we’ll solve it … together.
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