One American is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Thursday, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month Fort Gordon soldiers heard from a survivor who is one of their own.
A Ft. Gordon banquet hall was sprinkled with teal on Thursday, which is the color of sexual assault awareness and prevention. Soldiers read personal impact statements to honor victims.
“I informed my female sergeant and she told me to keep quiet because no one would believe me. “
Command Sergeant Major Julie Guerra shared a different story. One where her superiors took her seriously after her experience with sexual assault.
“They kept me in my organization. They gave me duties and responsibilities and extra duties and responsibilities so that I didn’t feel at any time like I wasn’t a member of a team or of that formation,” CSM Guerra said.
A sense of purpose, along with resiliency and a support group helped her overcome her experience and now, she strives to facilitate that culture with the soldiers she leads.
“Establish a culture of no bystanders and of bystanders intervening and of it’s ok to get help and it’s ok to say that something bad has happened to you and it’s ok to report it regardless of what level it comes on. It’s ok to turn to somebody and say– hey, chill out, that’s not appropriate,” CSM Guerra explains.
CSM Guerra says sharing her story gives her a renewed sense of purpose.
“It gave me the power to take the narrative back,” she says.
To everyone in the room she said, we are all leaders and challenged the group to empower those around them.
“We collectively have to facilitate the support network and the purpose along with the resiliency to make sure that we’re taking care of those in our formation and those around us,” said CSM Guerra.
Ft. Gordon also handed out awards on Thursday to those who have made a positive impact related to sexual assault awareness, prevention and treatment.