FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – Trust … It’s supposed to come with the uniform. Trust in fellow soldiers’ actions, but also in their reactions during tough situations. Trust that they’ve got your back on the battlefield and in life. Trust that to them, the word bystander demands a call to action when something just doesn’t seem right.
That’s the message being delivered to 8th Theater Sustainment Command troops during ongoing Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention “Got Your Back” training sessions held here and at Schofield Barracks locations from February through April.
“Got Your Back” has been adopted and adapted for SHARP training across the Army, and attended by soldiers across the globe, from 1st Army Division East at Fort Meade, Md., to Fort Hood, Texas, to here in the Pacific.
Now, TSC troops are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with their comrades from other U.S. Army Pacific units, actively discussing the critical roles each and every one of them can play in preventing sexual assault and harassment.
At a late-February session, presenters Brian Golden and Kelly Ristow from Catharsis Productions, an independent production company that educates audiences on challenging social issues through interactive dialogs, first asked the audience to come up with a list of sexually derogatory terms to open a frank discussion about the connection of language and assault.
“With the audience involving soldiers across all ranks, we got a much larger perspective,” said Spc. Christina Kubiak, an 8th Special Troops Battalion soldier.
Leaders and soldiers alike chimed in on the discussion and how individuals can recognize improper behavior, stopping it before it progresses to a crime, and how it’s a responsibility they have to each other in and out of uniform.
By the end of the 90-minute training, the group was listing realistic ways to intervene in a harassment or assault situation such as directly confronting the perpetrator or providing a distraction so the victim has a chance to get away from the situation.
The scheduled sessions will overlap with the Army’s annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, which is designed to raise awareness through activities that educate, promote intervention, foster a climate of dignity and respect, and emphasize the five pillars of SHARP: prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy and assessment.