April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

(Via Ho’okele News)

April 2014 is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and will be recognized as such throughout the Department of the Navy. This year’s theme is “Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault.”

Sexual assault is a crime. Every Sailor, Marine and Department of the Navy civilian is responsible for their own actions and for intervening to protect others from harm. We hold ourselves to high standards, our core values demand nothing less, and our nation rightfully expects us to set a visible and consistent example for all.

We must all be personally committed, as I am, to a culture of gender respect where no one must suffer the trauma of sexual assault, where sexual assault victims receive support and protection, and where offenders are held appropriately accountable.

Together, we have accomplished much in the past year. Sailors and Marines are better educated and more aware of sexual assault issues than they have ever been. They are more comfortable reporting sexual assaults when they occur, and many have intervened themselves, or witnessed acts of intervention to prevent assaults.

Leaders at all levels are engaged, and victim support processes are stronger, as are our capabilities for criminal investigation and prosecution of cases. Our primary challenge remains-to prevent sexual assaults in the first place. There are no simple precedents to follow, and we will break new ground in doing so. One result will be enduring culture change.

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is an annual reminder of values and commitments that apply all year. I encourage you to organize or participate in local and regional events. Together, we can eliminate this crime. Nothing less is acceptable.

I pledge to all victims of sexual assault our department-wide commitment to your support and healing. I encourage you to seek that support. Your local victim advocate, uniformed victim advocate, sexual assault response coordinator, or civilian employee assistance specialists are excellent initial points of contact.

In addition, live confidential assistance is available anywhere 24/7 from the safe helpline toll-free at (877) 995-5247 or by chat at http://www.safehelpline.org.

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