April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Hannah Shult
  • Moody AFB Certified Victim Advocate
 Statistically, if you take six random American women and put them all in a room, ne of them has been or will be the victim of a rape or an attempted rape sometime in her life.

Sexual assault is a pervasive, universal problem - no one is safe from sexual assault. Men, women and children can all become victims. Numbers are higher than one might think, and victims more numerous than one would like to believe. Every day, someone is assaulted, which impacts the victim, their families, their friends and even their co-workers. In fact, according to RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), every two minutes another American is sexually assaulted. This means in one day 720 people are victimized in a way that will change their lives forever.

Sadly, out of every 100 rapists, only three will serve time. The other 97 rapists will walk free. A contributing factor to this is the reticence victims hold - shame, embarrassment, fear, defeat... These are all feelings that may hold victims back from reporting their attackers. It is not uncommon for people who have suffered from sexual assault to remain silent.

Many people would report their attacker, especially if they feel they have the right resources to do so. There are also many victims who do not know how to report their attacker. Who do they talk to? Who should they go to? Should they talk to a friend? A family member? A supervisor? Where should they go? Another factor that complicates the situation is that unfortunately, the friend, family member, co-worker, or supervisor often is the assaulter. Approximately two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. This seemingly leaves victims with no options - no one to turn to.

What a victim should know is: in the military, there are two reporting options: Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting. Restricted reporting allows a victim to report an assault without involving their chain-of-command, or triggering an investigative process. The only persons available to receive a Restricted Report are the SARC, certified Victim Advocates (VAs), and Health Care Professionals at a military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF). This option is often the first step victims take in coming forth about their abuse.

Current statute of limitations laws governing reporting options in the military are currently under Senate review. A victim has the choice to file an Unrestricted Report, through normal reporting channels. These channels include: their Chain-of-Command, Law Enforcement, Air Force Office of Special Investigation or other criminal investigative services. In both Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting, the victim will be offered medical care, counseling and other supportive services.

Taking care of victims and preventing sexual assault is the primary mission of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program office. The Moody AFB SAPR team consists of the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Frances Elmore; the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA), Jacinta Howell; and nine certified VAs.

Please contact the SAPR office for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) planned events. Show your commitment to stopping sexual assault. If you have any questions, call the SARC at 229-257-7272.