JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Apr. 26, 2022) – In a perfect world, the conversation about sexual assault would never have to happen. Unfortunately, our world is far from perfect and sexual harassment, and assaults are still happening today.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has taken the stance and prioritized their Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) campaign focusing on and highlighting the fact that prevention starts with you.
The ‘you,’ meaning you, me, each USACE employee, whether civilian or uniformed. Our collective civic duty is to work toward combating sexual harassment and assault. We do that by education, recognizing warning signs, saying something when we see something, and not tolerating inappropriate behavior in or out of the workplace.
In a proclamation dated Apr. 1, 2022, USACE’s Commanding General, LTG Scott Spellmon, Command Sergeant Major, Patrickson Toussaint, and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Ms. Renee Chapman reaffirmed their commitment to shifting the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered, unreported, or unaccounted for. We redouble our efforts to prevent this human rights violation and degradation of mission readiness from happening in the first place.
Shifting the attitudes starts with education. Educating the workforce is something that Maria Eggers, Jacksonville District’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Collateral Duty Victim Advocate, takes very seriously.
Eggers states that April’s SAAPM campaign is essential because it’s a time to show our commitment and support to survivors.
“It’s an opportunity to show survivors and employees that we care,” adds Miranda Raines, USACE Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program manager. “Not all survivors are willing to come forward for many reasons, but SAAPM gives us a chance to show our support, provide additional resources, highlight our program, and for the Command to show their support as well. Our work is usually done in the background to maintain the victim’s confidentiality, but SAAPM gives us the chance to put SHARP in the spotlight.”
Raines says she meets with USACE senior leaders almost weekly regarding the SHARP program within the organization. The main question she says they continue to ask of her is, “What do you need, and how can they help.”
“Everyone is dedicated to ensuring that our members have access to support, whether military or civilian,” Raines continued. “Since the first day I started with USACE, the Commanding General, Deputy Commanding General, Command Sergeant Major, and the Chief of Staff have ensured I have 24/7 access to them, their support, data, and funding. Ensuring that we are always working towards reducing and eliminating sexual harassment and assault across the force.”
According to Raines, prevention is the key. “The main goal of raising awareness is PREVENTION! Our main goal is to stop sexual harassment and assault before it happens. Helping others spot some of the signs of sexual harassment and assault and giving them the tools to intervene is always our main goal.”
As one of only two volunteer victim advocates in the district, Eggers stresses that educating employees about sexual harassment and sexual assault is a way to remind employees of what they can do to prevent and stop these unspeakable actions.
So, what can you do to help combat these crimes?
As outlined in the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) campaign flyer, here are some steps you can take personally to prevent sexual harassment and assault.
- Treat everyone with dignity and respect.
- Promote and encourage open, honest, and transparent communication.
- Take all reports seriously and hold offenders accountable.
- Engage, support, and listen to survivors.
- Be equally supportive and engaged with every teammate.
- Ask for feedback and listen, and avoid judgment.
- If you see something inappropriate, say something.
- Check-in with your team regularly.
Now, the time is to step up as individuals and USACE employees to combat sexual harassment or assault. Be vocal. If you see something, say something. It is everyone’s responsibility to spread awareness to prevent these savage acts.
During the SAAPM awareness month and every other day of the year, remember this: PREVENTION of sexual harassment and sexual assault STARTS WITH YOU. Let us all do our part!
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at www.saj.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JaxStrong.