Hammering away at sex crimes

Hood Herald/CATRINA RAWSON - A car sits smashed up after Fort Hood and III Corps invited people to hit it with a hammer in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 21 at Fort Hood. -

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fort Hood Herald

Those who wanted to take a swing at sexual assault did some damage last week at the corner of 761st Tank Battalion Avenue and T.J. Mills Boulevard.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Fort Hood and III Corps invited people to swing a hammer at a donated car. The car was emblazoned with words like "rape," "violence," "sexual assault," "trauma," "abusive sexual contact," "forcible sodomy" and "indecent exposure."

Before hitting the car, participants raised their right hands and recited the following: "I pledge to intervene, act and motivate myself and others for the prevention of sexual assault. I. A.M. Strong."

I. A.M. Strong is a campaign the Army unveiled last year to encourage bystanders to stand up and speak for those they see victimized. It stands for "intervene," "act" and "motivate."

"When I recognize a threat to my fellow soldiers, I will have the personal courage to INTERVENE and prevent sexual assault," read information from the Army.

"You are my brother, my sister, my fellow soldier. It is my duty to stand up for you, no matter the time or place. I will take ACTION.

"We are American soldiers, MOTIVATED to keep our fellow soldiers safe."

Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Felt, the garrison's top senior noncommissioned officer, took the first swing at the car on April 19. Hundreds did the same throughout the week, said Mark Francis, the post's sexual assault response program coordinator.

Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, III Corps and Fort Hood senior mission commander, signed a proclamation April 1 recognizing the Army's effort to reduce sexual assault.

Sexual assault erodes trust and confidence among the ranks, he said, and degrades men and women in uniform.

Francis said the response program also gets out its message by posting its abuse hot line in local clubs. Fort Hood's 24/7 sexual assault crisis line is available at (254) 702-4953. Callers can report a sexual assault or speak with a victim advocate.

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