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 "The goal is to increase education, promote resources available both on and off base and encourage Airmen to hold each other accountable and be more aware of a potentially dangerous situation,"
Step Up and Stop Sexual Assault

Posted 4/11/2014   Updated 4/11/2014 Email story   Print story

    


by Dianne Moffett
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - Randolph, Texas  -- Every April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). A month to take action, increase awareness of the issues of sexual violence, and prevent it from happening in the first place.

The Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, or SAPR program, underlines the Air Force's commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through awareness and prevention training, education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability.

The Air Force promotes sensitive care and confidential reporting for victims of sexual assault and accountability for those who commit these crimes.

"The goal is to increase education, promote resources available both on and off base and encourage Airmen to hold each other accountable and be more aware of a potentially dangerous situation," said Chris Burnett, Air Education and Training Command sexual assault response coordinator.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN center, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in America, operates a 24-hour Safe Helpline at https://safehelpline.org/. The helpline provides sexual assault support to the Department of Defense community and has some thought provoking safety tips on their website:

Trust your gut and be true to yourself. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, trust your instincts and leave. If someone is pressuring you, it's better to lie and make up an excuse to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse. Your safety comes before someone else's feelings or what they may think of you.

Take control of your online life. Be mysterious online. Think twice before you share personal information. Constantly posting social media updates on your whereabouts, activities may allow someone to track your every move. Use your best judgment when "checking-in" on Facebook or Foursquare and geo-tagging images you post to Instagram. Remember this motto: If you would not share the information with a stranger, then you shouldn't share it online.

Make others earn your trust. Don't assume your new friends (Airmen, co-workers, colleagues, and acquaintances) will have your back or be looking out for your best interests, make them earn your trust.

If you see something, say something. If a situation seems questionable, speak up and alert others around you to it. By intervening you can prevent a crime from being committed. It can be difficult to know what to do, especially if you're feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes it helps to stop and take a deep breath. Remember, you can always contact base police or call 911.

Be aware & stay alert. Whether you are hanging out at a party or walking on base, pay attention to what is going on around you. Try to take well-trafficked routes and avoid being isolated with someone that you don't know or trust. Get to know your surroundings.

Make plans & be prepared. When going out, you should know ahead of time who is going and plan to stay together as a group. Create a backup plan for the day/night so that all of your friends (fellow Airmen) know where to meet up if someone gets separated and/or their phone dies. Always have a designated sober friend in the group, even if they won't be driving. Be sure to check that you have everything you need before you leave -- a fully charged phone, the number for a reliable cab company, enough cash to get you home, etc. Keep your phone on you at all times in case you find yourself if an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

Party smart. Guard your drink at parties. Don't accept one from people you don't trust or know well. Stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself. If you happen to walk away from it, get a new one. Keep track of what you've consumed so that you can stay in control. If you feel like you're getting sick or are too intoxicated, ask to help you get to a safe place or to a hospital.

Be a good friend (Wingman). Watch out for each other. Stick together in groups, especially when traveling from one place to the next. If a friend is acting in a way that seems out of character, take notice. If he or she is overly intoxicated or seems to need assistance, get them to a safe place and support them. If you suspect that a friend has been drugged or needs medical attention because of over-intoxication or for any other reason, call 911.

Further emphasizing the Air Force's commitment, Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James said the Air Force's mission depends on Airmen having complete trust and confidence in one another.

"Our core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, define the standard. Sexual assault is absolutely inconsistent and incompatible with our core values, our mission, and our heritage. As such, our SAPR program is a priority both for ensuring readiness and taking care of our Airmen."

More than just doing their job, all Airmen have a responsibility to look out for one another and help build a respectful environment to live up to this year's theme "Live Your Values: Step UP and Stop Sexual Assault," every month.



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