By Geoffrey Morris
Stuttgart Citizen Volunteer
This April marks the 20th annual observation of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month. The observance began in 2001 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month when the National Sexual Violence Resource Center coordinated the first formally recognized campaign. In 2009, former President Barack Obama, made the first official proclamation that stated April was Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
This year, the Army will spread awareness through the theme “Building Cohesive Teams through Character, Trust and Resilience. Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.”
The Army’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Programs (SHARP) consists of a Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates. Ying-Yen Chang Esq. is U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s victim advocate.
“If the trust is strong, teams are strong,” says Chang, “Not only is trust between our leaders and soldiers important, the trust between the SHARP office and all community members is important as well.”
The SHARP office provides victims of sexual harassment or assault, 18 years or older and living in the Stuttgart military community, access to confidential support. Chang added that the office can connect victims with services at legal, medical, behavioral health and the chaplains’ office as well as provide victim advocacy all while maintaining their privacy.
Chang said everyone in the community plays a vital role in preventing sexual assault from occurring and in supporting victims.
“Reporting sexual assault is a deeply personal and difficult decision and a lot of people are afraid to come to us,” she said. “They might fear retaliation or think that we cannot help them because they are just one person in a big program. We have to earn their trust but if someone they already trust understands what we do, they can point them to us.”
To learn more about the SHARP program or to report a sexual assault, call the garrison SHARP office at DSN: 314-596-3162 or CIV: 09641-70596-3162. For 24/7 support, call the hotline at CIV: 0172-868-6019. For 24/7 support, call the hotline at CIV: 0172-868-6019.
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) – Jeremy Plumley, LCSW
Panzer Kaserne, building 2948, room 415
D-SAACP Certified Advocate Level I – Ying-Yen (Patricia) Chang, Esq.
Panzer Kaserne, building 2948, room 412