Illinois Rape Crisis Centers partner to Stop Sexual Assault in the Military

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SPRINGFIELD, IL - The Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, Maj. Gen. Richard Hayes Jr., spoke to members of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA). Hayes signed a memorandum of understanding with the local crisis center, during a workshop March 17 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, in Springfield, Illinois.

Nearly 50 ICASA members, from crisis centers across Illinois, attended the event where Hayes discussed sexual assaults in the Illinois National Guard and the combined efforts to combat it. Hayes and crisis center directors signed memorandums of understanding to establish a mutual relationship that benefits service members who are victims of sexual assault.

The memorandum contains provisions for both the Illinois National Guard and the ICASA members. For instance, ICASA employees and volunteers will participate in military competency training or other joint training with National Guard sexual assault response personnel. Both organizations also agreed to share resources, information and services to help provide more options in the effective care and support to service member victims, all the while ensuring victims' privacy remains intact.

"This mutual agreement expresses the convergence of will between both parties, indicating the common line of actions when servicing military members in crisis," Sgt. Maj. Diane Rogers, the Illinois National Guard State Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), said.

Rogers said this agreement also promotes communication between the organizations to better assess and support victims' needs.

Over the past decade, the Illinois National Guard has given greater emphasis and training in sexual assault prevention and response. Since 2005, the Illinois National Guard has investigated 97 sexual assault cases. At present, there are 17 cases being investigated, four of which were initiated in 2016. The reported cases not only include service member against service member, but also civilians as victims and perpetrators.

Despite these statistics, Hayes said the culture is changing and the numbers are proof that the education and awareness programs are working.

"Our statistics show more service members are coming forward to report incidents each year," Hayes said. "We do not believe more reports is because of more incidents. Instead, these numbers indicate a growing trust in our efforts to care for the victims and punish those who would commit such acts."

Hayes said the ultimate goal is to eliminate sexual violence entirely, but in the meantime, it is the responsibility and top priority of the Illinois National Guard and ICASA to ensure all available resources are available to aid in a victim's recovery.
 
 

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