By Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas – Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center staff and visitors were encouraged to “Embrace Your Voice” at the hospital’s annual Sexual Assault Awareness/Prevention Month observance and Denim Remembrance presentation, April 25 here.
Each April, civilian and military communities observe Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month to raise awareness, prevent sexual violence and provide essential support to survivors. This year’s theme “Embrace Your Voice” helped to inform individuals on how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens.
Held in the hospital’s atrium, the observance opened with a ceremony to commemorate Denim Day. Seventy-five pairs of folded jeans were laid on a table, representing the victims of rape who came through CRDAMC’s emergency room last year.
Denim jeans became a symbol of rape prevention and education when the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction in 1998, declaring that it couldn’t have been rape since the victim likely assisted her attacker in removing her jeans since they were so tight. Enraged by the verdict, within hours the women in the Italian parliament found their voices to protest the ruling by wearing jeans to work. Since then, wearing jeans became an international symbol of protest against myths surrounding sexual assault with more than two million Americans participating in Denim Day.
Guest speaker Aimee Gibson, consultant and wife of CRDAMC Commander Col. David Gibson, expanded on the “Embrace Your Voice” theme in her speech.
“Embracing your voice isn’t just about the words we say, but how you use your voice to communicate who you are. It means establishing your mindset—your attitude, behaviors and beliefs and how you interact on a daily basis with family and friends in work and social situations.” she said. “Every interaction is a choice in how you raise your voice, regardless of outcome or consequence or circumstance, in service to others and to yourself. Ask yourself if your mindset is where it needs to be so you can be proud of who you are. We are all capable of embracing the voice that we desire.”
The program also featured musical interlude, demonstrating how music is a powerful means to help drive more awareness and breakdown the barriers for stigma, silence and shame that keeps people from talking about sexual assault and domestic violence.
“A simple combination of notes and tones can wind its way through our defenses evoking emotions and triggering memories long forgotten. Music’s ability to connect with our deepest emotions without judgment or bias makes music a profound tool for healing,” said Lisa Lerma, CRDAMC SHARP Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.