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    Awareness month begins with guest speaker

    Awareness month begins with guest speaker

    Photo By Norman Shifflett | FORT CARSON, Colo. — Edward “Obbie West” Wilson speaks to Soldiers and civilians...... read more read more



    Story by Norman Shifflett 

    Fort Carson Public Affairs Office

    By Norman Shifflett

    Fort Carson Public Affairs Office

    FORT CARSON, Colo. — The 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson kicked off this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) with a guest speaker April 1, 2021, at McMahon Auditorium.

    This year’s SAAPM theme is “Building Cohesive Teams through Character, Trust and Resilience. Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.”

    The guest speaker, Edward “Obbie West” Wilson, is an avid sexual violence prevention advocate who promotes awareness through training and education. Wilson retired from the Army in 2019 and chose this path for his disdain for abuse of any type due to experiences in his life.

    Wilson said the presentation was not to be instructional but intended to share a different perspective on what the participants already knew about sexual harassment and sexual assault intervention.

    “Sexual assault and harassment are largely based off of respect,” Wilson said. “The basic component is respect. We have to really enforce the importance of respect.”

    Wilson also discussed barriers that keep people from intervening in incidents of possible sexual harassment or assault. Some barriers:

    1. Self-preservation — the decision to leave a safe place in order to intervene or not.

    2. Unable to identify the enemy — difficulty identifying a predator from a person who doesn’t wish to harm anyone because they share similar behaviors, such as telling dirty jokes and being overly touchy.

    3. Character vs. capability — listing positive character traits to dismiss an accusation against someone who is still capable of committing the act, hence all accusations should be addressed immediately.

    4. Pluralistic ignorance — multiple people witness an incident and assume someone else will intervene, and when the decision to intervene is made it’s too late.

    5. Look beyond the ignorance — understand what is OK with each individual and do not assume a comment or action to one person is OK with all persons.

    It is important to know anyone can intervene, regardless of rank.

    “It’s not a rank issue, it’s more of a people issue,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Rastellini, NCO in charge 4th Inf. Div., Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP). “We want to empower our young privates and sergeants that they have just as much power when it comes to bystander intervention as a two-star general.”

    Pfc. Esdrick Laoine with the 759th Military Police Battalion said the presentation was very beneficial to him. It made him think more about why people don’t intervene and how to get past those barriers.

    This event is just one of many that will take place throughout the installation. During the month, each brigade will also be displaying the Teal Shoes Memorial as a reminder of SAAPM and to honor survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

    The presentation was aimed at influencing behaviors and imparting critical skills as a fundamental role in intervention and prevention.

    “So, today’s purpose was to get everyone to not just be aware of the problem but to pick up some skills to intervene and essentially act and serve as intervention specialists,” said 1st Lt. Oved Cardenas, victim advocate, 4th Inf. Div. “To make sure anytime you see something in terms of sexual harassment or sexual assault, you act and not let barriers stop you.”



    Date Taken: 04.01.2021
    Date Posted: 05.04.2021 16:07
    Story ID: 395625
    Location: US

    Web Views: 7
    Downloads: 0