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Though the Army has a strict no tolerance policy on sexual assaults and harassments, there seems to be a steady reoccurrence of these incidents. The Army has implemented measures to control and deal with violators who commit these heinous acts but this seems to be of no threat to soldiers especially when they are intoxicated, motivated by what they see on social media in terms of online profiles of their victims and peer pressure.
Intoxication according to SFC Hilton SHARP Representative at the 4-160th SOAR (ABN), seems to be at the beginning and the end of every incident report that is handled. “Soldiers are courageous when it comes to performing their job, but not everyone has confidence to speak to a person of the opposite gender, especially when they have a crush,” said SFC Hilton, “Liquid courage is the jargon used to define this new-found courage in these attackers.” Alcohol use impairs judgement as well as lowers that person’s inhibition, in the Army’s “Stand-To” campaign they highlighted alcohol as being the number one choice that is used by predators to find courage or weaken their victims. An estimated 44 percent of violent sex offenses involve the use of alcohol by the predator, the victim or both.
Another reason for the repetitive occurrence of SHARP incidents in the Army is social media. Social media is not new to the Army, and its use can be both useful and harmful. No one can deny the influence of social media in today’s society. Social Media has become the norm, and a way of life to soldiers of this millennial generation. Soldiers take pictures and upload on their social media pages which give attackers the opportunity to prey on their victims. Soldiers upload these pictures without the knowledge that they are possibly being spied on or fantasized about. The need for this social attention has left particularly young naive soldiers without boundaries, they unknowingly invite predators into their lives by exposing themselves in a lascivious manner which is appealing to attackers. By investigating and knowing their victims’ mannerisms from they gather on social media, with the added effect of alcohol all an attacker has to do is create a scene where they can be one on one with their victims.
The final reason in my opinion and observation there is a reoccurrence of sexual assault in the military is not reporting it when you observe it happening. Soldiers in most instances tend to see a developing scenario and turn their backs on it more times than often. Not reporting a sexual assault incident because you are not directly involved is the wrong answer for anyone who witnesses such an act. By letting that sexual offender walk away you are in turn putting other people at risk, in and outside of the army. “Most sexual assault starts out as harassment, especially in the military other soldiers observe these occurrences of harassment and turn a blind eye so therefore attackers take it up to the next level and that’s when the assaults happen”.
The continuous battle to quell sexual assaults is one that will continue every day in the army. However, if soldiers continue to drink, expose themselves on social media and not report incidents they are leaving the doorway open for these incidents to happen repeatedly. Alcohol does when introduced to any situation allows people to make unconscious decisions, social media although useful can cause harm and unwanted attention through the exposure it provides and not reporting violators only leaves them to go out and create more victims. It is our responsibility as leaders to let soldiers fully comprehend the importance of sexual assault, and encourage them to not become victims or offenders of the Army’s policy on sexual harassment.
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