HOW CAN I REDUCE MY RISK OF BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED?
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes (RAINN calculation based on USDOJ NCVS data). By being prepared, alert and assertive, you can reduce your risk of being sexually assaulted.
- Being assertive means that you state what you want.
- Remember: "No" means "No." If you do not want to be intimate with another person, tell him or her clearly. Use a confident voice and body posture.
- Match your body language to your words - while you may be uncomfortable and feel inclined to do so, don't laugh and smile while saying "No."
- Donâ€™t worry about being impolite. It is okay to be abrupt or rude with someone who is invading your space or making you uncomfortable.
- Do not just "go along."
- Watch out for warning signs or "red flags" from your partner in intimate situations.
- Carry a cell phone and money for a cab.
- Travel with a buddy.
- Stay in groups, as there is safety in numbers. Check in with each other and don't let anyone be isolated.
- Plan your outings to try to avoid bad situations or plan ahead for how to handle them.
- Stay sober. Studies indicate that about half of all U.S. sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol by the offender, the victim, or both.
- Never leave a drink unattended or accept a drink that you have not seen prepared. Educate yourself about date rape drugs and how predators use them.
- Whenever possible, walk in areas that are well lit and populated.
- Keep the doors to homes, barracks, and cars locked. Donâ€™t feel compelled to open them just because someone is asking you to do so. You are within your rights to be unresponsive in these situations.
- Know where the phone is located.
- Don't go anywhere alone with someone unless you know the person very well and trust him or her, but be aware that most sexual assaults involve people who know each other.
- Trust your instincts; if a place or person feels unsafe, it probably is.
- Watch for signs of trouble such as strangers in private areas or persons loitering in places where they shouldn't be.
- If you sense trouble, get to a safe place as soon as possible.
- If you feel you are in danger, attract help any way you can.
- According to the Acting Secretary of the Army's Task Force Report on Sexual Assault Policies, from 1999 to 2004, 67% of the sexual assaults involving Army personnel occurred on post. Report any unauthorized or suspicious males or females in the barracks.
REDUCING YOUR RISK IN A DEPLOYED ENVIRONMENT
Be especially prepared and alert in deployed environments. Deployed environments can present special risks for Army personnel:
- In forward deployed areas, facilities that Soldiers frequent can be spread out a considerable distance from working locations or housing. This may require traveling on foot in darkened spaces to access them. In the case of showers or latrines, travel occurs at times when a Soldier may be actually unarmed. Soldiers accessing dining or USO facilities at odd hours, due to shift work, may be isolated and in danger from local nationals, contractors, or other Soldiers who may attack them because no one else is around to intervene. Similarly, Soldiers who work long hours may find themselves at the gym at post-midnight and pre-dawn hours in order to get in their workout for the day, leaving them vulnerable to a potential perpetrator who is lying in wait. Entry Control Points can be the most dangerous of all, given these persons can be completely alone at times or, at the very least, distant from immediate assistance.
- In forward deployed areas, Soldiers usually work long hours seven days a week. Unlike stateside areas, where sexual assaults typically occur on weekends, OCO sexual assaults do not occur on particular days. Rather, these assaults occur on any given day of the week due to the work schedules at those locations.
- Sleeping areas (tents, bunkers, latrines, showers, and other buildings) may be less secure in a deployed environment. Report any unauthorized males or females.
- Many non-Army personnel are present in deployed unit and working areas.
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Deployed environments may have different lighting conditions and facilities than those in garrison.
- Different cultures may treat females differently than they are treated in the U.S. Be assertive and clearly state if you feel uncomfortable with how someone is treating you.
To reduce your risk in a deployed environment, travel with a buddy, if feasible.
Make sure you know how to contact your SARC/SHARP Specialist or VA/SHARP Specialist in case you or someone you know is sexually assaulted. Remember, it is DOD policy that sexual assaults are treated as medical emergencies, not minor or routine medical matters.