March is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky

Staff report

SAPR clipartFRANKFORT, Ky.March is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky, leading into April being the national month.  In order to raise awareness and keep our audience informed about our policies and practices regarding sexual assault, kentuckyguard.com presents an interview with Charles Lay, the Kentucky National Guard’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

Click here for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

Question:  What is the significance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and what do you hope comes from it?

Nationally Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) occurs in April.  Kentucky recognizes SAAM during the month of March.  Both are used as a means of raising awareness and promoting the prevention of sexual violence through various events that are organized throughout the month, and through the use of educating the public.  For the National Guard, SAAM provides an annual opportunity to highlight the Department of Defense’s and the National Guard’s policies pertaining to Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) along with new changes that have occurred in the program.  Ultimately we hope that events during SAAM will educate people on the services that are available, and get more people involved in the eradication of sexual assaults in the National Guard and military services.

Click here for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Question:  Tell me about the Sexual Assault Awareness Program and how it can help Soldiers, Airmen, families, etc?

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program provided education the problem of sexual assaults, and services available.  Our office stands ready to receive reports of sexual assault, whether restricted or unrestricted, and will provide victim advocacy services and/or referral services to ensure that anyone that has been sexually assaulted is able to receive the help that they need and deserve while ensuring that the person making the report is treated with dignity and respect.  If they decide that they would like to proceed with an investigation, we can be there to assist them and provide advocacy throughout the process.

Click here for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

Question:  What do you want the general public to know about the SAA program and how it helps our troops?

The program is ever growing and evolving to improve the program to provide better quality services.  We can provide education if requested, and will always assist someone who wants to report a sexual assault.  We work with different agencies throughout the state to try to ensure that we have coverage statewide.  The Department of Defense has also established a Safe Helpline that can be reached 24/7 via phone, text, email, online chat, or with the use of a smart phone app.  The Helpline will provide contact information for the nearest Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or provider.  This is just one of the improvements made to the program within the last couple of years.Helpline

Question:  What advice do you have for someone who is the victim of sexual assault?

You do not have to suffer in silence.  Our office and others across the state are willing to help you if you will allow us to.  We can be with you to provide victim advocacy and support throughout the process of reporting, prosecuting the perpetrator, and recovery if you would want us to.

If the sexual assault just happened, the first thing to do is to get to a safe place and call someone, whether it is 911 or someone else.  Get to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.  Evidence can be collected through a forensic exam that can be used in prosecution later if desired.  Do not wash up, shower, or bathe before getting the forensic exam done, as that will wash away important evidence.  Do not clean up the scene of the assault either, as it can have important clues for an investigator.

If you have questions on what options are available to you, please contact us, we will be glad to sit down with you and explain all of your reporting options and the services available for you.

Click here for information on the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs

Question:  What about someone who knows/suspects their friend/co-worker is the victim of sexual assault?  What advice do you have for them?

If the person comes to you to talk to you about the occurrence, above all else be supportive.  Listen to them, and believe what they have to say.  Do not judge them, and do not blame them.  A sexual assault is a very traumatic experience, and they are going to need all of the support that they can get.  Encourage them to seek help and report the incident.

Charles Lay

Charles Lay is the Kentucky National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.  If you have questions about the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program or need to talk with him, feel free to call 502-607-1276 or email him at charles.r.lay.ctr@mail.mil.

If you suspect, but are not sure, show them that you are available if they want to talk.  Let them know that you are there for them.  Encourage them to speak with someone about what it is that is bothering them.  Remember, just because you have suspicions does not mean that something occurred, they could be upset about something else.  However, if you have noticed a mood change, then something has happened, and they may need a friend to speak too, or just to be there as a show of support.

Family members of survivors of sexual assault may need to seek counseling help for themselves as well.  A sexual assault not only affects the survivor, but those around them.  Loved ones and family members can be affected as well, and may need counseling to seek separate counseling for themselves.

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