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NEWS | April 1, 2014

JBLE SAPR, SHARP work to end sexual assault

By Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The safety and well-being of Soldiers and Airmen is top priority for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention teams at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

Sexual assault is a crime, defined as the unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical sexual contact of a victim, female or male. The JBLE SAPR and SHARP professionals are trained to 24 hours, seven-days a week care for individuals affected by sexual assault.

The SAPR office at Langley Air Force Base provides sexual assault response capability 24/7. Anyone who feels they are a victim of sexual assault or knows someone who may be is encouraged to contact the SAPR office.

"Our main role is to educate people [through the SAPR programs],"said Bernadette Hardy, sexual assault response coordinator. "We talk about prevention, and also respond appropriately when incidents occur."

The Fort Eustis SHARP program functions as an integrated, proactive effort by the U.S. Army to end sexual harassment and assault within the service and provide easy access to resources for Soldiers and civilians. The program utilizes subject matter experts, known as victim advocates and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to guide survivors through the reporting and recovery process.

"Through victim advocates and SARCs, the program provides of resources and support," said Sarah Rhodes 597th Transportation Brigade victim advocate. "[This support] is needed during a traumatic time in a person's life."

The SAPR and SHARP offices keep JBLE informed to help prevent, protect and assist in reporting sexual assault.

The SAPR office hosts training sessions, for both large and small groups. This year the SAPR office hopes to introduce annual training within the units. The units have members who have been designated as SAPR representatives for the various squadrons to facilitate better face-to-face communication.

"We want talking about [sexual assault] to be less taboo," said Hardy. "If people can start talking about it, they can also start saying 'no, I'm not going to tolerate this.'"

April 1 marks the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, during which JBLE will promote programs and build relationships between the community and emphasizing the importance of preventing assault and harassment.

For more information, call the Langley AFB SAPR office at 764-7272, or the Fort Eustis SHARP office at 268-8967.