April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Story at a Glance
The Defense Department wants to make certain all service members and civilians are held accountable when it comes to sexual assault awareness and prevention. |
Posted 4/1/2011 Updated 4/1/2011
by Dianne Moffett
AETC public affairs
4/1/2011 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sexual assault can happen to anyone. Your gender, age or relationship status won't change that.
The Defense Department wants to make certain all service members and civilians are held accountable when it comes to sexual assault awareness and prevention. The slogan "Hurts one. Affects all." exemplifies the service member's responsibility to protect its own.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy agree, "Every Airman has the moral obligation and professional duty to intervene appropriately and prevent and eliminate sexual assault from our Air Force."
The first step to eliminating sexual assault is to accurately define it. The Defense Department defines sexual assault as "intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent."
Under the DOD's definition, sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy (oral or anal sex), or indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling).
In an effort to educate the community in sexual assault prevention, the Air Force adopted its own motto, "Real wingmen act!" to oblige Airmen to intervene and prevent a crime from happening in the first place.
According to Chris Burnett, Air Education and Training Command sexual assault response coordinator, prevention is the ultimate goal. Ms. Burnett says prevention is best achieved, "by energizing the community through education and training, by promoting positive bystander intervention and by making people more aware of a potentially dangerous situation."
The Active Bystander initiative provides three important components for intervention:
- Assess for safety. Assess whether the situation requires calling authorities.
- Be with others. Your safety is increased when you stay with a group. You will maintain a greater influence over the people who are involved when you work with several people.
- Care for the victim. Ask if the victim of the unwanted sexual advance, attention or behavior is okay. Does he or she need medical care? Does he or she need to talk to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator to report the incident?
If you have experienced an assault or know someone who needs help, Ms. Burnett says, "The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is there to assist and offer support. The base SARC is the single point-of-contact who tracks victim services from initial report through final disposition and designates a victim's advocate if the member requests one."
SARCs and victim advocates inform the victim of the right to choose restricted or unrestricted reporting and they provide the victim with medical, spiritual and psychological counseling.
"If the victim chooses restricted reporting, the incident is not reported to the commander and investigators. This allows the victim to focus on getting medical, spiritual and psychological attention without initiating an investigation," says Ms. Burnett and added, "Only Active Duty Service members have this option."
Unrestricted reporting allows the victim to focus on getting medical, spiritual and psychological care while initiating an investigation.
As wingmen, Airmen are responsible for one another. Practice responsible alcohol consumption, take the initiative to help someone who might be in trouble or help prevent someone who is under the influence from becoming a victim or perpetrator of a crime.
In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, Randolph AFB presents Dr. Christopher Kilmartin: "Leadership and Sexual Assault Prevention," April 5, 2011, 10 a.m., Randolph base theater. For more information, call (210) 652-4386.
SARCs and victim advocates are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week at every installation. Contact your base SARC for more information. The Randolph AFB SARC, Jacqueline Shiflet may be reached at (210) 652-8787.
Secure and confidential support for the DOD community can be found at Safe Help line https://www.safehelpline.org/ or by calling 877-995-5247.
For more information on sexual assault prevention, awareness and training, visit MyDuty.mil at http://www.myduty.mil/