What can I do to help prevent sexual assault in my unit?
Commanders have a responsibility to establish a command climate where safety is promoted, where soldiers and Army civilian employees are educated on sexual assault risk reduction techniques, and where soldiers and Army civilians feel free to report incidents.
Sexual assault is a unit readiness and safety risk
Sexual assault is a crime that is incompatible with Army Values and the Warrior Ethos. Sexual assault directly and negatively impacts readiness across the force. Take the following actions to help reduce the risk of sexual assault in your unit:
- Educate and train your unit on sexual assault prevention
- Educate soldiers and Army civilian employees about the definition of sexual assault, the Army policy regarding sexual assault, and prevention measures they can take to reduce their risk of sexual assault.
- Conduct unit refresher training on sexual assault prevention in your unit. Soldiers will receive sexual assault prevention training in Initial Entry Training.
- Consider the risk of sexual assault and conduct unit safety briefs during high-risk periods such as holidays and deployments.
- Monitor the command climate to ensure that it is supportive of victims
- Ensure that soldiers and Army civilian employees feel comfortable in reporting sexual assault to the chain of command. You can do this by communicating your intention to protect and treat victims of sexual assault and by making it clear that you will follow Army policy in fully investigating all incidents of sexual assault.
- Communicate to soldiers and Army civilian employees that you and your chain of command will provide caring assistance to victims of sexual assault.
- Make sure soldiers and Army civilian employees know that the chain of command will take appropriate disciplinary action.
- Continually assess the command climate regarding the risk of sexual assault in your unit.
- Demonstrate, through your words and actions, that sexual assault is unacceptable and is incompatible with Army Values and the Warrior Ethos.
- Demonstrate your willingness to address incidents of sexual assault and to reject the precursors of sexual assault, such as sexual innuendos, sexual harassment, and egregious indecent assaults by also addressing other forms of harassment or discrimination. Ensure all soldiers feel free to contact the Equal Opportunity Branch if they believe they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly due to race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Ensure all civilian employees feel free to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Office if they feel they have been discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, or if they have experienced reprisal in an employment matter.
Reducing the risk of acquaintance or date rape in your unit
"Acquaintance rape," which includes date rape, refers to those rapes that occur between two or more people that know one another. "Date rape" refers to situations in which the one person has consented to go on a date with another person and that person then rapes him or her.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), about two-thirds of sexual assault victims in the United States knew their assailants. To help prevent acquaintance or date rape:
- Educate soldiers and Army civilian employees on the importance of maintaining alertness by avoiding alcohol and drug use
- Encourage assertiveness and communication in dating and other intimate situations
- Educate soldiers and Army civilian employees on the dangers of "date rape drugs."
Deployed unit risk reduction considerations
Be especially prepared and alert in deployed environments. Deployed environments can present special risks for Army personnel:
- Sleeping areas (tents, bunkers, and other buildings) may be less secure in deployed environments.
- Encourage soldiers to report any unauthorized males or females in sleeping areas.
- Implement security measures around sleeping areas, especially at night.
- Many non-Army personnel are present in deployed unit and working areas. Encourage soldiers to be alert and aware of their surroundings.
- Different cultures may treat females differently than they are treated in the U.S. Encourage soldiers and civilians, especially women, to be assertive and clearly state if they feel uncomfortable with how someone is treating them. Encourage them to report any inappropriate behavior to you immediately.
- Minimize your soldier's risk by recommending they travel with a buddy.