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Soldiers learn sexual assault prevention during

Updated: Monday, April 14 2014, 09:25 PM MDT
Soldiers learn sexual assault prevention during  story image

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, TEXAS-- Members of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade attended sexual assault awareness training at Fort Bliss on Monday.

The training is part of SHARP standdown day, also known as sexual harassment and assault response and prevention day.

"In order to stand down from all training and activities that go on normally, we focus on sexual harassment and sexual assault," said Col. Clem Coward, commander of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss.

Mike Domitrz, creator of the Date Safe Project, spoke to soldiers about relationships and how a better understanding of consent can lead to healthier dating.

Domitrz talked to soldiers specifically about how to use verbal communication toward sex and intimacy, and how to ensure you don't over step someone's boundaries.

Soldiers also learned how to step in and help others in a situation where someone may be trying to take advantage of them, without being confrontational.

Finally, Domitrz talked about helping people around their peers come forward if they have been sexually assaulted.

"What we discovered is that there are underlying issues, when it comes to why do these activities occur," said Col. Coward. "The activities occur because it's due to behavior, it's due to relationships and too many times it's due to certain elements involved, such as alcohol, which certainly impaired judgement."

Soldiers also took part in hands-on training where they learned how to protect themselves and others in certain situations.

Members of Hicks Arrest and Control Training System, were on hand today to teach soldiers some self-defense tactics.

Pvt. Tina Shreves was in the crowd listening to Domitrz when she remembered a similar situation happened to her a couple months ago.

"We were just at a bar, it was my birthday. We were having fun, you know, and something went wrong," Shreves said.

She said it was a frightening experience where someone almost took advantage of her friend.

"The guy kind of turned her away from us, like cornered her away from our group, and at that time I wasn't sure what was going on. So I pursued the situation and followed him, and then grabbed her and left with her," Shreves said.

At Fort Bliss, Colonel Clem Coward said they do see peak periods when sexual assaults happen at Fort Bliss.

"Sometimes you'll see some spikes, and too many times the vulnerable period is when the new soldiers first arrive to a unit," Col. Coward said. "They are vulnerable because they don't have many friends or many contacts."

Amy Braley, sexual assault victim advocate for the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, said they are starting to hold more training about prevention and the types of services that are available to those who have survived a sexual assault.

"Not too long ago after a training that we had given, somebody reported a sexual assault that was over three years old," Braley said. "But they didn't feel confident until they had heard the message."

For more information on the Date Safe Project, go to their website at http://www.datesafeproject.org.

Soldiers learn sexual assault prevention during
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