Alaska National Guard highlights sexual assault awareness and prevention during month of April
Inside the Gates
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska National Guard is working on breaking the stigma of sexual assault through the power of conversation.
After Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe signed a proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the Guard hopes more soldiers will feel comfortable bringing up a difficult topic.
“Actually having the conversation about, ‘Well this is how we can change the culture in our unit,’ This is how we can make people feel confident about coming forward,” said Loren Dinolfo, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response specialist for the Alaska National Guard. “For some, it’s a taboo topic. They don’t want to bring it up.
“Nobody wants to be thought of as a victim.”
The statistics on sexual assault in the military paint a picture of younger people being targeted. The Department of Defense reports that in the Fiscal Year 2021, about 29% of women said they had been sexually harassed, an increase over prior years.
Dinolfo said they decided to release the proclamation as a “visual statement,” illuminating the National Guard’s response to sexual assault. Sexual assault can impact anyone, Dinolfo said.
For that reason, the Guard decided highlighting advocates would be a big focus of their mission this year to eliminate sexual assault.
“We are really focusing on the ‘advocate’ part of that,” Dinolfo said. “Because being an advocate and advocating for a victim is not just the job for one person ... its everybody’s job.”
The Guard is also organizing Denim Day and Teal Tuesdays to spread awareness and show support toward victims. Victims of Assault can reach out to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program for help, to work with a victim advocate to find both military and non-military assistance services.
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