FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- --
Sexual assault doesn’t discriminate.
It doesn’t discriminate by gender, age, ethnicity or religious affiliation. Sexual assault can happen to anyone. It’s considered to be an unthinkable, heartbreaking act that can never truly be prepared for.
Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact characterized by use of force, physical threat, intimidation, abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. It includes rape, forcible sodomy and unwanted sexual contact or attempts to commit these acts.
To bring awareness to sexual assault, each April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. With this year’s theme, “Protecting Our People, Protects Our Mission,” now is a great time to become informed and educated on how to address sexual assault, and how to direct someone to support services.
“This month brings awareness to the [Sexual Assault Prevention and Response] program and the resources available. Having information on available resources and knowing that they have access to resources at any time is key,” said Jessica Bradshaw, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “A victim of sexual assault can choose resources when they are ready. We want to help create a culture where victims feel comfortable coming forward."
Services available to victims of sexual assault with either restricted or unrestricted reports include victim advocates, special victim’s counsel, medical care, and counseling. All services are voluntary.
What actions does one take when sexual assault happens to them or someone they know?
Contact the SAPR office either in person or by phone to get information on options. There is no need to provide a name if you’re not ready to report, she said. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response staff is here to listen 24/7 and we have confidentiality through Military Rule of Evidence 514, the victim-victim advocate privilege. This privilege is owned by the victim for the purpose of protecting confidential communication that’s in support of victim care and not meant for a third party.
“Having information available and resources outside of their peer circle is important,” said Vada Martinez, 92nd ARW Sexual Assault victim advocate. “They have access to resources at any time. They can say no to talking with us today, but they can come back tomorrow or even a year from now and resources will still be available to them.”
In an effort to help bring awareness and change the culture surrounding sexual assaults, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is hosting various events throughout the month of April such as:
- April 12, 2:30 p.m.: Shelly Monahan-Cain is scheduled to speak at the Red Morgan Center. Monahan-Cain was one of the victims from a high-profile sexual assault case in Spokane during the late 1970s and early 1980s. She is a seasoned speaker on the topic of sexual assault and has shared her personal story, with thousands of people locally and across the country providing insight and encouraging discussion among attendees.
- April 20: Violence Prevention run and walk scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. at Miller Park, which is sponsored by multiple helping agencies from around base.
- The Clothes Line Project is a national event displaying t-shirts designed by those affected by sexual assault and gives victims an avenue to express their thoughts and emotions through decorating a t-shirt. These shirts will be displayed at the Fitness Center, throughout the month of April.
For a full list of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month events and activities, or to learn more about sexual assault, contact the 92 ARW Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office at (509) 247-4771, (509) 247-4444, (509)-247-7272 (24/7 Response) or visit http://www.fairchild.af.mil/About/SAPR/.
In addition to local resources; the Department of Defense Safe Helpline offers a variety of options. They can be reached by phone at 877-995-5247, on-line at safehelpline.org, by text message at 55-247, and the self-care app for iOS and android devices.