Marine Corps Base Hawaii --
Starting their day early, Marines and sailors from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay ran a 5K down the flightline and back in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month at Hangar 105, April 19, 2013.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is recognized throughout April on a national level to raise awareness that this crime can happen to anyone.
This year’s theme for SAAM is “We own it…we’ll solve it…together,” which is meant to reaffirm it is everyone’s responsibility to help prevent sexual assault.
“This event wasn’t planned just to raise awareness,” said Chief Petty Officer Rodney Love, the Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay training chief and the unit’s sexual assault response coordinator. “It gives people a face they can recognize, and that provides us with an opportunity to help them.”
Along with the run, MCAS was given wristbands, pens, pamphlets and information to hand out and spread the word about sexual assault.
“I provided them with merchandise to hand out to their Marines and sailors,” said Brenda Huntsinger, who is the Installation Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Manager. “I just want to thank everyone on the base for their continual support in helping prevent sexual assault.”
The unit formed up outside Hangar 105. While most of the runners wore physical training gear, the uniformed victim advocates stood out, wearing white T-shirts printed with last year’s SAAM theme: “Hurts one. Hurts us all.”
This is not to say sexual assault only happens to women. According to statistics by the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, one out of six women say they have been raped or sexually assaulted while one out of 33 men say they have been victims as well.
In a report released by the Marine Corps, a total of 346 cases of sexual assault were reported in 2012, an 11 percent increase from 2011.
“The reality is it has reached a handful of people, both men and women,” Huntsinger said. “It’s our job to make everyone aware and get them talking about it.”
Huntsinger’s motto is sexual violence thrives in silence, which illustrates that sexual assault crimes occur because most people do not report it, or they dismiss it altogether. The reason for this is most people do not know what to do in a situation like this, or either they are scared or simply turn a blind eye to what is happening.
“The noncommissioned officers have been doing their jobs well and acting properly when it comes to reporting cases involving rape here on base,” Huntsinger said. “Despite the high number of reported cases, Marine Corps Base Hawaii has an efficient record of reporting these cases.”
MCAS plans to hold a community-wide event on base next year to raise awareness and show their support for sexual assault awareness.
“It’s present in all levels of society,” Love said. “Don’t forget about it.”
Huntsinger encourages anyone who has witnessed or is a victim of a sexual assault crime to call 216-7175.
This number is a hotline that connects directly to a UVA and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she said. Huntsinger is also available at 257-7777.