MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center’s
Headquarters Battalion made it very clear sexual assault is not tolerated in the Marine Corps and renewed its commitment to support victims and hold perpetrators responsible.
Jennifer Husung, the Combat Center’s sexual assault response coordinator and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program manager, held a brief at the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group auditorium April 27 for the battalion’s active duty women to inform them of the dangers of sexual assault.
Husung ensured the Marines knew and understood the Department of Defense’s definition of sexual assault, which is “intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent.” She also told Marines about the many services and support personnel available to those assaulted.
The SAPR program is cohesively working to ensure victims of sexual assault are well taken care of, said Husung, a Twentynine Palms, Calif., native.
The top three things a Marine should do after being assaulted is get to a safe place, seek medical attention if needed and contact a uniformed victim advocate, said Gunnery Sgt. Sergio Jimenez, the UVA for Company B, Headquarters Bn.
The UVA can help the victim choose between filing a restricted or unrestricted report and inform the victim of their rights, provide support and help them navigate through the process.
A restricted report allows the Marine to receive necessary counseling without initiating an investigation.
“Under restricted reporting, victims can go to their UVA, counselors, and the sexual assault response coordinator for confidential support and guidance,” said Jimenez, from Norwalk, Calif. “However, under restricted reporting, law enforcement and the victim's command will not be informed, no investigation of the assault will occur, and a full range of protections afforded to the victim will not be available, such as military protective orders.”
Chaplains are also an available source of counseling protected under confidentiality rights, Husung said. However, chaplains cannot help victims work throught the filing process.
Choosing the restricted reporting path could limit medical care options, because California State law requires all medical personnel to report sexual assault cases to law enforcement officials, Jimenez said.
“This obviously creates serious health implications for victims, because they may not be treated for sexually transmitted diseases or for pregnancy in women,” he said.
Alternatively, if the Marine decides to file an unrestricted report, law enforcement will conduct an investigation. Medical personnel will be informed, and a Sexual Assault Forensics Examination can be conducted to gather evidence and aid law enforcement officials in their criminal investigation.
Husung relayed some sobering statistics to the Marines while emphasizing the importance of using a buddy system.
“Seventy-three percent of rapes are acquaintance rapes,” Husung said. “Acquaintance rapes are by someone you know, or is known to you through a friend or coworker. Nearly ninty percent of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol or drugs.”
According to Marine Corps Order 1752.5A, the Marine Corps has “zero tolerance” for sexual assault, and reminds all Marines they are required to report actual, suspected or alleged sexual assaults. The UVAs, SARCs and victim advocate counselors are the only ones who hold confidentiality and, by law, are not allowed to report acts of sexual assault.
“Sexual assault is a crime that goes against everything the Marine Corps stands for,” Jimenez said. “If you are victim, remember it is not your fault. I encourage you to report it and help prevent it from happening to someone else.”
For more information regarding sexual assault, visit the Web site http://www. usmc-mccs.org/sapro /index.cfm?sid=ml or contact the installation UVA or your battalion’s UVA.