Sgt. Christina Steiner, The Real McCoy Contributor
third annual Joint Services Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
(SAPR) Program training brought more than 125 participants nationwide
to Fort McCoy earlier this month for an engaging five days of
certification and recertification as unit or installation victim
advocates (UVA/IVA). The workshop took place at the Wisconsin Military
Students participate in
interactive practical exercises during the third annual Sexual
Assault Prevention and Response certification workshop held at
Fort McCoy. (Photo by
Master Sgt. Christina Steiner)
experts in psychology, criminology, counseling and advocacy spoke at
length to UVA trainees and those receiving annual recertification.
Instruction was interactive, including small-group break-out sessions,
partner and group exercises, and film documentaries.
of the latest SAPR research shows that "one in four women and one
in six men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime," said
Lt. Col. Cynthia Rasmussen, psychiatric nurse specializing in combat
stress and SAPR actions for the 88th Regional Support Command at Fort
Snelling, Minn. Rasmussen helped found the Army’s SAPR program in
2004 and wrote some of the Department of Defense Issuances (DODIs) on
are things that may happen in this room this week that may trigger
memories," Rasmussen said. "We have confidentiality and want
you to feel safe. Rank has no concerns here. We’re all here to
myths and stereotypes surrounding sexual assault still exist today,
despite research to the contrary. One myth is: if a victim is being
sexually assaulted, why doesn’t she or he scream and fight back?
myths continue to blame the victim by suggesting that clothing or
certain behaviors prior to an assault place the victim at fault.
than 50 percent of victims believe their lives are in danger during
the assault and they freeze up," said 1st Lt. Kristen Boustany,
Joint Forces Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) for the
Wisconsin Army National Guard, and one of the instructors during the
new initiative is, ‘Ask her when she’s sober,’ which will avoid
legal trouble (for the initiator)."
Capt. Sylvia Lopez (left),
Wisconsin Army National Guard, and Sgt. 1st Class Charlene
Powell, 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation, Wisconsin Army National
Guard, act out a victim-unit victim advocate scenario. (Photo
by Master Sgt. Christina Steiner)
percent of sexual assaults are (by) nonstrangers, and more than half
are intimate partners," said Boustany.
is a Defense Department program, though each individual service may
have slightly different terminology and protocol. The Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response Program Office (SAPRO), headquartered at the
Pentagon, governs each service’s program.
victim reporting became available in 2005. Up until then, victim
reporting always initiated a criminal investigation. With confidential
reporting, victims can receive health and psychological counseling,
and can choose whether to press charges and initiate an investigation
later. This is an incentive to encourage sexual assault victims to
2008, there were more than 2,900 sexual assault reports made among
military servicemembers; of that, 2,155 were unrestricted and 753 were
restricted, according to a congressional report. The reports have
increased but that doesn’t necessarily mean sexual assaults have
increased; it means more people are coming forward, said James
Thompson, SAPRO training manager for the National Guard Bureau
Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Only perhaps 10 to 15 percent of
victims come forward to report, he said, so officials are not entirely
sure of the actual numbers of sexual assault in the military.
Reasons victims do not report include: embarrassment,
fear of retaliation, not being believed, and discouragement with the
amount of time and effort it takes to report and file charges.
in the SAPR program this past year include: adding sexual harassment
training in with the mandatory annual requirement and processing
sexual assaults as a line-of-duty investigation for Army Reservists
SAPR is a Title 10 Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) System
for active-duty servicemembers on station more than 30 days.
Otherwise, civil law takes precedence in a sexual assault case report.
go on rotational call, which lasts about a week, unless a case comes;
then the advocate may be on SAPR duty for several months to a year if
the case goes to trial. It is specialized training and requires that
applicants meet certain criteria outlined in Army Regulation 600-20,
Chapter 8, Army Command Policy. IVA/UVAs commanders must sign a
Statement of Understanding releasing the advocate for duty in a SAPR
McCoy’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator who manages the
installation UVA/IVAs is Elizabeth Carmichael at 608-388-8951. She
also is listed in Army Knowledge Online.
(Steiner is a member of
the 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment, 1st Brigade (Schools), 70th
Training Division (Functional Training), 84th Training Command (Leader