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Monday, May 27, 2019

#Me Too Military

According to the The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) women are now "the fastest growing group of U.S. Veterans." One in five women has reported what the VA defines as military sexual trauma (MST): sexual assault or harassment experienced during military service. The effects of MST are profound. The proposed Military Justice Improvement Act of 2017 is intended to address military sexual violence by removing prosecution authority over sexual assault from military commanders in the victim's chain of command. 

At the beginning of this month, the Pentagon released a report on sexual assault in the military. Below is the response of the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN). SWAN is a national, nonpartisan organization and member-driven community network advocating for the individual and collective needs of service women. 

To date, SWAN has played a major role in
  • opening all military jobs to service women
  • holding sex offenders accountable in the military justice system
  • eliminating barriers to disability claims for those who have experienced military sexual trauma
  • expanding access to a broad range of reproductive healthcare services for military women
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 2, 2019
SWAN Responds to Pentagon’s Report on Sexual Assault in the Military 
Another jump in sexual assault reports for FY2018 indicates continued failure by military leaders
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Sexual assault reports in the military increased again in FY2018 according to the latest annual report released by the Pentagon today. According to the report 20,500 service members were sexually assaulted in FY18 with 6.2% of women and 0.7% of men experiencing an assault. For women this represents a dramatic increase from FY16 when the rate was 4.3% for women. Only 1 in 3 (6,053) reported her/his assault. The Marine Corps had the highest increase going from 7% in FY16 to 10.7% in FY18 and they remain the service with the overall highest prevalence rate. Defense department officials expressed frustration with the lack of progress in addressing this crime during a briefing to veteran serving organizations this morning.
Despite the 2% increase in reports, court martial convictions continued to decline going from 281 in FY17 to 203 in FY18. “An increase in reporting is only good if it leads to justice,” said retired Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Davis, Co-chair of the Board of Directors at the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), the leading national organization exclusively advocating for the rights of service women and women veterans. “It hasn’t. Despite the increase in reporting, prosecutions and convictions of sexual assaults have decreased over the last five years albeit for a variety of reasons – from lack of evidence to jurisdictional issues. The fact that the military encourages victims to report offenses is a positive step; however, the military must do more to alleviate the prevalent culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault. No option is out of bounds. We will not be satisfied until justice for service members experiencing sexual assault is served swiftly and equitably.”
There was a clear disparity between men and women in the level of trust in the system. Men report much higher levels of trust then women with over 80% of men trusting the system vs about 65% of women. Victims reported less than 50% satisfaction with the support they received from their chain of command, military investigators, and the DOD Safehelp Line. They had the highest level of trust in the Congressionally mandated special victim counsels and advocates that are now available to them.
“Not only are perpetrators not being held accountable, as evidenced by the low prosecution and conviction rates,” said SWAN CEO retired Army Colonel Ellen Haring, “but service members who report can expect to experience retaliation.” In FY2018 43% of victims reported being retaliated against after coming forward. “Every sexual assault represents a service member who has committed fratricide. It should be called an insider threat and it should be a treated as an insider threat. If it were treated as an insider threat far greater action would be taken to root out this cancer,” said Haring. “So far, the military has taken a piecemeal approach to attacking what is a very serious systemic problem that is rooted in the culture of the military. Until military leaders are willing to take a hard look in the mirror and make the systemic changes that are required this threat will persist.”
By service branch, the Marine Corps saw the highest prevalence rate at 10.7% followed by the Navy at 7.5%, the Coast Guard at 6.2%, the Army at 5.8% with the Air Force having a 4.3% rate of sexual assault. All military branches experienced an increase in prevalence over FY16.
“The military must not rely on an increase in reporting as a sign of progress,” said retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning, Director of Government Relations at SWAN. “The number of reports could be due to more confidence that justice will be done, however it could also mean that more assaults are occurring—or both. The increase in reporting should not be spun as good news while sexual assaults continue to rise,” Manning said.

About the Service Women’s Action Network

SWAN is a national, nonpartisan organization and member-driven community network advocating for the individual and collective needs of service women. To date, SWAN has played a major role in opening all military jobs to service women, holding sex offenders accountable in the military justice system, eliminating barriers to disability claims for those who have experienced military sexual trauma, and expanding access to a broad range of reproductive healthcare services for military women.
Media Contact: Ellen Haring, SWAN, O: (202) 798-5570, C: (571-331-0416, ellen@servicewomen.org




Monday, May 20, 2019

Ways to Tell Someone About IMPACT



Fifteen is the maximum number of participants who can enroll in the IMPACT Chicago Core Program or IMPACT for Girls. With our sliding scale, no one has to be held back because of their financial circumstances. Help us make sure there are 15 participants in every class. The number 1 reason someone signs up for IMPACT is because someone they know recommends the program.

Here are some ways grads have encouraged others to register for an IMPACT program:
  • Send a personal email to 1-5 women at least 2 months before an upcoming Core Program, tell them about your own experience of the course and what it has meant to you; let them know about the sliding scale and the buddy discount; and link to our website.
  • Send a personal email to parents with girls ages 12-15 about an upcoming IMPACT for Girls program.
  • Invite a friend, co-worker, or family member to attend a What is IMPACT program with you and to join you in cheering on the women completing the final three scenarios of their class.
  • Share the event information posted on Facebook about an upcoming program.
  • Click “interested” on upcoming IMPACT events on Facebook
  • Share a personal story about the value of IMPACT to you on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, including a link to our website.
  •  Carry IMPACT Chicago postcards with you and if someone mentions their concerns about safety, share your experience and give them a postcard. To get postcards, contact outreach.
  • Work with your employer to bring an IMPACT workshop to your workplace.
  • Work with your employer to underwrite or match Core Program tuition.
Please tell someone about IMPACT Chicago!

Monday, May 13, 2019

What About Those Safety Tips?

Once you've had a self-defense course, people are often eager to hear about the safety tips you learned, from how to wear your hair to what weapons to carry. In "Safety Tips for Women, Revised" on the IMPACT Boston Blog, Shay Orent offers a look at the dangers of safety tips and suggests instead:
  • Know the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships
  • Practice boundary setting
  • Know the research

For her analysis of safety tips and more about ways to keep ourselves safe, check out Orent's "Safety Tips for Women, Revised" 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Protecting Kids Without Scaring Them

In " 10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse" published by the Child Mind Institute, Natasha Daniels offers ideas about how to protect children without scaring them.  Her suggestions:

  • Name body parts and talk about them early
  • Teach them that some body parts are private
  • Teach your child body boundaries
  • Tell your child that body secrets are not OK
  • Tell your child that no one should take photos of their body parts
  • Teach your child how to get out of uncomfortable or scary situations
  • Have a code word your child can use if they want to be picked up or feel unsafe
  • Tell your child they will never be in trouble in they tell you a body secret.
  • Tell your child a secret body touch might feel good but they are still not OK
  • Tell them these rules apply even with people they know or another child.
For details and nuances for each of these suggested rules, check out Daniels' article on the Child Mind Institute website: "10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse."