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Sexual assault and sexual harassment are destructive occurrences that happen in all workforces including the Army. Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) is a program that everyone needs to work together to implement so that the program can be effective and improvements can be made. There are many factors that can weaken the effectiveness of the SHARP program that are preventable if the program is followed rigorously. Loosely following the SHARP guidelines, heavy alcohol use, and toxic leadership are three of the major factors that put the soldiers at risk.
Loosely following the SHARP guidelines will increase the risk of sexual assault and harassment occurring.
SHARP informs soldiers to look for certain signs that can lead up to sexual assault so that it can lower the risk of it happening to them. If a soldier notices the signs leading up to sexual assault on somebody else and does not intervene, they are not following an important part of the SHARP guidelines.
It is important for soldiers to look for the indicators of sexual assault or harassment, such as the suspected perpetrator not taking no for an answer, the perpetrator trying to isolate the soldier from everyone else, and the perpetrator being overly aggressive, so that the soldier can decrease the risk of sexual assault happening to them. To lower the risk for sexual assault and harassment for you and everyone else, all you have to do is follow the guidelines, pay attention, and look out for one another. Comment by Katrina Dunakin: What are the signs? Comment by Katrina Dunakin:
It is harder to look out for the indicators that can lead to sexual assault and harassment while drinking alcohol.
Alcohol is a major factor in many cases of sexual assault. Forty-four percent of all SHARP cases involve the consumption of alcohol. Being under the influence impairs judgement and increases the risk of being sexually assaulted or harassed. That is not to say that it is the victim’s fault for being sexually assaulted, but belligerent people will take advantage of others in a drunken state, especially if they themselves are also intoxicated. The risk of alcohol related assault can be reduced by having a plan, going out with a trusted friend, keeping your drink with you or in sight at all times, and limiting how much you consume. Along with the overuse of alcohol, toxic leadership can lead to less cases of sexual assault or harassment being reported.
Toxic leadership can cripple not only a unit’s cohesion, but leaderships vital role in the SHARP process. Toxic leadership affects everyone in the unit by creating distrust among the soldiers and their leaders. Soldiers that have been harassed or assaulted may not believe anything will happen to the perpetrator, even if they make a report. That is because they may be used to leadership positions being abused. This discourages those that have been assaulted from reporting the incident. Even if there is toxicity in your unit, still report any and all believed cases of sexual assault and harassment so that changes can be made and voices can be heard. Comment by Katrina Dunakin: Why is there distrust? Maybe give an example?
Loosely following the SHARP guidelines, overuse of alcohol, and toxic leaderships are the major factors that can weaken the effectiveness of the SHARP program. Follow the SHARP guidelines closely to help protect you and your fellow peers from sexual harassment and assault. Drink in moderation, have a plan, and always have a friend you can trust. Make a report on the suspected assault or harassment regardless of the outcome that you expect. It is also important that you report the toxic leadership through your chain of command so that necessary changes can take place, and so that others can have the courage to speak up as well.
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