• November 22, 2014

Afterburner programs at Fort Hood fight rape

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Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 9:13 am, Tue Feb 26, 2013.

FORT HOOD — Once a month, soldiers fill Howze Theater to have a straight-to-the-point conversation about consensual sex.

Called Afterburner, the 90-minute presentation is an interactive discussion between a facilitator and soldiers about how to prevent sexual assault and harassment, both on and off duty.

“The hope is to get people to examine their own behavior,” said Ben Murrie, the facilitator for Monday’s three Afterburner programs through Catharsis Productions. The Chicago-based company conducts educational presentations to reduce interpersonal violence.

Everyone is asked to look at themselves, not because they may have committed an assault, but because they may have stood by and allowed one to occur, he said.

“The ‘a-ha’ moment is when we start talking about the roads that lead to assault,” Murrie said.

During the program, Murrie said he tries to show the correlation between the daily occurrences, such as derogatory language, objectification of women and avoiding awkward situations, and sexual assault.

“Predators use false stereotypes, such as language, against someone,” he said. “Language also allows people to stand by and watch.”

Spc. Andrew Durrant, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said this point was the biggest take-home issue for him.

“Mostly about the degrading of women,” he said. “It was really interesting. It provided a lot of ideas to put into preventing sexual assault.”

Fort Hood’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program began offering Afterburner in October as a way for soldiers to meet their annual requirement of three hours of sexual assault prevention training, said Lt. Col. Jacqueline Davis, SHARP program manager.

Three sessions of Afterburner are offered once a month, with about 350 soldiers at each presentation. It is just one of the many programs available for training.

“It’s getting great response,” she said. “It’s different than the standard PowerPoint slides. It’s relative to what they do in their personal time and work environment.”

Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Ruelas, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, said he appreciated Afterburner’s direct approach to the issue.

“It was straight to the point. Sometimes the other programs are too long,” he said. “The crowd was able to say what they wanted to say about the topic.”

Spc. Keyatta Boulware, of 3rd Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, said she would like to see more soldiers participating in Afterburner.

“Then a SHARP representative can incorporate what we learn here into our quarterly classes,” she said. “When I get back to the unit, I will let them know what I learned.”

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