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Sexual assault awareness and prevention: Everyone's duty

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Story by Yan Kennon on 04/02/2019
Military and civilian communities recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. For the Department of Defense, the theme is "Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission."

"It's the responsibility of each and every one of us, to combat and eliminate sexual assault," said Capt. Matthew Case, Naval Hospital Jacksonville commander and Navy Medicine Readiness & Training Command Jacksonville commanding officer.

One in three women and one in four men experience sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes, and nearly one in five women and one in 38 men experience completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Service members and their adult military dependents have two reporting options: unrestricted and restricted. Both types of reports provide victims with access to healthcare, advocacy services, and legal services.
Unrestricted reports include notification to the command and law enforcement. Restricted (confidential) reports enable access to services, but don't notify the command or law enforcement.

Active bystander intervention can help prevent sexual assault. An active bystander identifies situations that might lead to a sexual assault, and then safely intervenes to prevent an assault from occurring.

Stepping in can make all the difference, but it should never put one's own safety at risk. Four steps one can take to support someone are known as "CARE."
Create a distraction. Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A
distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.
Ask directly. Talk directly to the person who might be in trouble.
Refer to an authority. Sometimes the safest way to intervene is to
refer to a neutral party with the authority to change the situation, like
a security guard.
Enlist others. It can be intimidating to approach a situation alone.
Enlist another person to support you.

For victims of sexual assault, NH Jacksonville provides medical forensic exam services 24/7 at its hospital. The medical forensic exam incorporates the collection of potential forensic specimens into the medical exam process. Specialized training is required for those that provide or assist with the exams.

The Navy offers 24-hour response capability to victims of sexual assault, regardless of location (ashore, afloat, or deployed) to ensure timely access to services.

Anyone in immediate danger should call 911 (in the U.S.). For those who have experienced a sexual assault, call the 24/7 toll-free DoD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247, NAS Jacksonville Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at 904-548-7789, NS Mayport SARC at 904-548-8392, or your command SAPR victim advocate. Defense Switched Network (DSN) users can call the 10-digit toll-free Safe Helpline. For those unable to call toll-free, call 202-540-5962 or use the Safe Helpline app, which offers the option to call using Voice over IP (VoIP) for those who don't have cellular service in their current location.

Naval Hospital Jacksonville and Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Jacksonville deliver quality health care, in an integrated system of readiness and health. NH Jacksonville includes five branch health clinics across Florida and Georgia. It serves 163,000 active-duty and retired sailors, Marines, soldiers, airmen, guardsmen, and their families, including about 83,000 patients who are enrolled with a primary care manager. To find out more, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/navalhospitaljax.


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