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Advocates of sexual assault victims across the country are meeting, hosting rallies, neighborhood watches, and doing whatever they can to bring attention to this unpleasant, but important reality in society. “It’s Time To Talk About It” is the theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Why are victims afraid to report sexual assault? Some victims are very traumatized and just want to forget the sexual assault happened, some blame themselves, some are ashamed and some think no one will believe them.

Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the greatest risk of sexual assault. Why talk about it? Talking about sexual assault can help victims become survivors and realize they are not alone. Talking about sexual assault encourages victims to report attacks and bring the alleged perpetrator to justice.

The Army currently has two reporting procedures, restricted and unrestricted reporting. Restricted reporting will ensure victims of sexual assault receive medical care, counseling and other resources needed to deal with the assault; however, because the assault is not reported to law enforcement, the alleged perpetrators identity is not revealed and he/she is free to target others without facing legal consequences.

Unrestricted reporting, the preferred method, not only provides care for the victim, this method of reporting results in a criminal investigation and if founded, prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Prevention of sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility and every day, we should dedicate ourselves as citizens to intervening to prevent sexual assault in our communities.

Victims of sexual assault should not have to suffer in silence. The Department of Defense provides a hotline for service members and their Families; call 877-995-5247 or log onto www.safehelpline.org.

Don’t sit in silence. Intervene, act, and motivate everyone to break the silence and fight sexual assault in the Department of Defense and our communities.