JBLM opens sexual assault resource center

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on November 5, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 9:00 PM

It wasn't long into Nichole Bowen's army career that it became clear the real enemies weren't the Iraqi soliders, but her own.

"The entire tour of duty was a constant rape threat for me," recalled Bowen.

It was a threat her sergeant ultimately made good on, and one he would never answer to. For Bowen, reporting it meant retaliation.

"It's a culture of harrassment and a culture where harrassment is tolerated and even almost expected," she said.

On Tuesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Sharp Resource Center officially opened - and so did the dialogue. It's a first-of-its-kind approach to an Army-wide epidemic.

The problem of sexual assault can only be solved by destroying the environment that allows the perpetrators to thrive. To do that, JBLM created a place for survivors of sexual assault not just to report the crime, but to also receive unilateral support.

The goal is to eliminate the hassle factor for victims of sexual assault - everyone on the same page, in the same place. In other words, to eliminate the bureaucracy in what is traditionally a bureaucratic institution.

"They don't have to go place to place, they don't have to tell their story over and over again," said Patty Jo McGill, a civilian victim advocate.

The center is a collaborative approach, connecting survivors with a victim advocate, medical personnel, police and military prosecutors all in one place. It's a concept that may become the model across all branches of the US military.

The Sharp Resource Center is open daily, 7:30am-4:30pm. They've also set up a 24-hour hotline: (253) 389-8469.

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