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Latest SHARP training seeks to find middle ground

‘Got Your Back’ facilitators talk to Soldiers and civilians about sexual harassment and assault June 5 at the post theater. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

‘Got Your Back’ facilitators talk to Soldiers and civilians about sexual harassment and assault June 5 at the post theater. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: June 13, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 13, 2014) -- The Fort Rucker Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program has taken many avenues to educate Army workers and Soldiers and to raise awareness about sexual violence, but a new program sought to bridge the gap between troop generations.

‘Got Your Back’, which was held at the post theater June 2 - 11, was brought to the post as a measure to ensure the message was properly communicated between older and younger Soldiers, so Soldiers will feel safe to report an issue if one should occur, said Sgt. 1st Class Lance Osborne, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker SHARP program manager.

“(Some of our recent training has been) geared toward young Soldiers who are not in serious relationships, and the message was (largely lost on many of our older generations),” he said. “I realized that this disconnect between the younger and older Soldiers is part of the problem.”

The program, he continued, was a facilitated discussion about hooking-up, sexual assault and bystander intervention.

“We examined how perpetrators’ method of operation is often masked by the accepted norms of hook-up culture. Myths about sex are being used to blame victims, protect perpetrators and confuse potential bystanders into inaction,” he said.

When people can discuss what healthy, consensual sex looks like in contrast to the methods perpetrators use, there is no confusion between healthy sex and rape, according to the SHARP program manager.

“‘Got Your Back’ applied the information learned about perpetrators’ motives and behaviors in order to devise successful bystander intervention strategies, and decrease our community’s tolerance for sexual predation,” he added.

Osborne said the workshop hoped to make connections between sexist language, stereotypes about hooking-up and the perpetuation of a culture that supports rapists; discuss the difference between a healthy sexual encounter, a regretted sexual encounter and rape; and galvanize individuals to act as change agents within military culture to ensure it does not perpetuate a climate that enables sex offenders to operate.

“We need to bring more awareness to our poor behavior. Sometimes we might make a comment that is misunderstood or is offensive even though we meant it in good fun,” he said. “This class is a tool to be used in the future to help out a victim or to monitor our own behavior.”

Sgt. Christopher Litteken, 1st Battalion, 58th Airfield Operations Battalion, said it was uplifting that the Army is trying to find new ways to get the information across to Soldiers.

“I really liked when they said outsiders see the Army a certain way. And when they make derogatory comments about the Army, they are making derogatory comments about me,” he said. “When outsiders say the Army is not a safe place because everyone is sexually harassed or hazed, that is just not my Army. And I want to make sure that it is no one’s Army.”

Staff Sgt. Damian Wiles, 1-58th AOB, said that he feels that Fort Rucker has a good, down-to-Earth approach when it comes to tackling these issues.

“I think ‘Got Your Back’ helped the (older generations) understand what is really going on, and it can help them imagine what it is like in the clubs or in a bar,” he said. “It can help them understand what it’s like to be there as a single Soldier, not in their living room with their Family on a Friday night. I think it will help open (some people’s) eyes.”

This article was originally published at

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