From the 86th Airlift Wing
Sexual Assault Response Coordinators
April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month across the U.S. SAAM gives military members the opportunity to reflect upon how to prevent sexual assault through education and increased public awareness.
Dealing with a sexual assault must be done so in accordance with military law and specific sexual assault prevention and response protocol. If you, or someone you know, are victims of sexual assault, it is important to be familiar with the following terms:
A report that allows sexual assault victims to confidentially disclose the assault to specified individuals and receive medical treatment, including emergency care, counseling, and assignment of a sexual assault response coordinator and SAPR victim advocate, without triggering an official investigation or notifying the chain of command. It is permissible to speak to a SARC, VA, medical personnel or chaplain and still have a restricted report.
A process in which an individual discloses he or she is the victim of a sexual assault, without requesting confidentiality or restricted reporting. Under these circumstances, the victim’s report provided to healthcare personnel, the SARC, a VA, command authorities or other persons is reported to law enforcement and may be used to initiate the official investigative process. If you mention your sexual assault to a mandatory reporter, you will be unable to keep your report restricted.
Mandatory reporters include police officials, first-line supervisors, foreign medical personnel and commanders.
Is an unrestricted report that is brought to the attention of a mandatory reporter by a third party.
Regardless of your reporting preference, the first response to any sexual assault scenario should be to contact the SARC by calling 480-7272.
Sustained emphasis on education and public awareness is needed to establish a military culture intolerant of sexual assault. According to the fiscal year 2011 Department of Defense annual report on sexual assault in the military, victim reports per 1,000 Air Force members were at 1.6. The same report states that only 14 percent (about one in six) of the estimated 19,000 victims actually reported their attack.
Consequently, for every 100 service members, statistics show one will be sexually assaulted. Consider the size of a squadron. Assuming the average size of 120 Airmen, it is probable at least one squadron member will be raped, sodomized, fondled or all of the above. Tragically, this may occur at the hands of a fellow service member. These actions devastate the victim and, in the case of blue-on-blue assaults, destroy the trust that is central to any military organization.
In light of these abysmal statistics, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta transformed the SAPR office during his tenure. New policies include a two-star general at the helm of the SAPR office, expanded legal assistance, expedited transfers for victims of sexual assault, and extended retention of forensic examination and investigative reports.
These changes resulted in increased effectiveness of the court system. Of the 791 military assailants brought before the court for a sexual assault offense across the DOD, 489 (62 percent) had courts-martial charges preferred against them. That represents a 30 percentage point increase in the rate of courts-martial charges preferred as compared to fiscal year 2007.
Regardless of our courts’ effectiveness, the objective of our SARC program is to eliminate the need for such proceedings altogether. In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said, “the Air Force goal for sexual assault is not simply to lower the number. The goal is zero. It’s the only acceptable objective.”
In that vein, the goal of the SAPR coordinator and VAs is to enable military readiness by establishing a culture free of sexual assault.
Creating such a culture is made possible through training and education programs, coupled with proper treatment of and providing support for victims.
In honor of SAAM, the 86th Airlift Wing SAPR office has organized several educational activities to increase sexual assault prevention.
Women’s self-defense class
Martial arts instructor Mike Grimes is offering a women’s basic self-defense course for free to any woman over the age of 16 who signs up in April. To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pornography and How it Relates to Sexual Assault
Author and public speaker Bob Rheem will discuss the correlation between pornography and the prevalence of sexual assault at 3 p.m. Thursday at Hercules Theater.
Closing ceremony/Denim Day commemoration
Wear your favorite jeans April 24 in commemoration of the 1997 Italian Supreme Court case where it was decided that a rape victim, “who wore very tight jeans, had to help remove them and by removing the jeans, made the sex act consensual instead of rape.” This event will bring awareness to worldwide victim-blaming decisions and actions.
For more information about the above events or for additional information regarding sexual assault prevention, call the SAPR office at 480-5597, email email@example.com or stop by their office located in the back of the Hercules Theater.