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Month focuses on prevention, intervention

by Jennifer Thibault
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

4/5/2010 – SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a designation that was reinforced last year with a presidential proclamation signed by President Barack Obama.

The Department of Defense defines sexual assault as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts.

This year’s theme is, “Hurts one. Affects all. Preventing sexual assault is everyone’s duty.”

Awareness is typically the predecessor to prevention and in the Schriever community; awareness has already had a jump start with required Air Force sexual assault training sessions. Those requirements are being revamped to include additional actions members can take.

“We are hoping that this training will provide Airmen with the tools to recognize potentially harmful situations and engage a multitude of strategies to mitigate possible harm to their fellow Wingman,” said Team Schriever Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Assistant Kim Nam. “Ultimately, this requires a shift in cultural and individual behavior; all of which aligns appropriately with Air Force core values and a natural sense of caring for each other.”

The shift refers to encouraging members to intervene to prevent a sexual assault situation, through the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Bystander Intervention Training. Modules are being tailored for core audiences including leadership and male and female Airmen.

“The training is a critical component to the SAPR program and will help provide intervention strategies to motivate and mobilize Airmen to act when they see, hear or otherwise recognize signs of an inappropriate or unsafe situation that may lead to a sexual assault,” said Ms. Nam.

The new training requirements are expected to be available later this year and must be complete by June 2012. After this date, the Air Force may establish new computer based training to satisfy annual requirements.

One of the key challenges for the sexual assault response coordinator is sexual assault is a largely unreported crime.

“Schriever has seen a slight increase in reporting,” said Ms. Nam. “We want to create an environment where victims feel safe to report, but at the same time even one sexual assault hurts so many.”

Victims of sexual assault have two avenues to get help, through restricted and unrestricted reporting. Through both, the victim is ensured medical care, treatment and counseling. However, through restricted reporting neither the victim’s chain of command or law enforcement officials are contacted. The victim may change their restricted reporting to unrestricted later on if they so choose, however once a victim starts the unrestricted reporting process they cannot go back to restricted reporting.

“As a victim, you decide how you would like to report and receive services. Both options can be started with a call to the SARC at 567-7272,” she said.

In addition to the impact a sexual assault has on the individuals, it is a violation of all that Airmen represent.

“Sexual assault directly contradicts our core values and harms individuals and the units they serve,” said Ms. Nam. “We are committed to a proactive program to fight and prevent sexual assaults.”

For more information on this program or the pending training requirements, contact the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program office at 567-7634.

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