Ta s h a Ve n t e r s , l e a d sexual assault response coordinator for Fort Belvoir, was named IMCOM SARC of the Year for her achievements in maintaining quality services, resources and assistance for victims. The recognition also noted the ample training opportunities Venters provides for the Belvoir population; for building and maintaining partnerships, on and off-post; and for going above-and-beyond her regular duties.
As Belvoir’s lead SARC, Venters’ main duties are to ensure there is 24/7 help for victims, including access to a victim advocate. She also works on case management.
“It’s nice to know I was supported by command. It’s nice to know that IMCOM, overall, recognized the hard work that I’ve done,” she said. “However, you don’t do this job for accolades. The rewarding parts of it are when the victim comes to you after all is said and done and says ‘thank you for helping me capture back some of that control that I had lost. Thank you for helping me go from victim to survivor to thriver.’ So you do
it for those moments. You do it for the moments where a victim says, ‘thank you for restoring my faith in the military.’ But it’s definitely nice and appreciated.”
Venters described her job as a position in which she hopes no one needs her, but if they do, she is there for them.
“I am glad I am here for those who do need me,” she said.
Turnover is high for SARCs, and burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma are common, she said.
“The biggest thing is self-care. Being able to walk away from everything when you go home and be able to have a self-care plan,” she said.
She wants her legacy to have changed someone’s life but also has contributed positively to her community.
“I always tell people … that my true hope is that I will work myself out of the job. Where there is no more sexual harassment and sexual assault then I will be out of the job,” Venters said. “That is the goal, and so hoping what I do, day in and day out, especially on prevention and education, is creating that better community.”
She often hears people talk about reducing sexual assault risks, like drinking responsibly and avoiding going out alone; however, while they are effective, it’s also important to respect each other by not raping and assaulting others.
“It’s up to us older generation to teach the younger generation what respect is, what mutual consent looks like, what a healthy relationship looks like,” Venters said.
And, even if you aren’t directly involved in a sexual harassment or assault situation, know that you should still be active preventing sexual violence.
“Be a true, active bystander. Don’t just stand around if you know something is outright inappropriate and wrong, is fishy or potentially wrong. Don’t say it’s none of your business or that you aren’t high enough in rank to do something,” she said. “Also take some self-responsibility about how you want your life to be, especially if you are a leader.”