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Sexual assault prevention and response speaker visits Spangdahlem

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Anne Munch, sexual assault consultant, explains the different actions women take to protect themselves from becoming victims of sexual assault April 12 at the base theater. Ms. Munch toured U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases sharing her expertise on sexual assault as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather M. Norris)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Anne Munch, sexual assault consultant, explains the different actions women take to protect themselves from becoming victims of sexual assault April 12 at the base theater. Ms. Munch toured U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases sharing her expertise on sexual assault as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather M. Norris)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Anne Munch's life mission is combating sexual assault, which she has been doing in court rooms and auditoriums for more than 20 years.

Ms. Munch, a leading expert in sexual assault prevention and response, visited here and other U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases to talk to Airmen, leadership and first responders about the culture of sexual assault and how it affects those who experience it.

"The best sexual assault case is the case that never happens," she said.

After 22 years of prosecuting dozens of domestic violence and sexual assault cases as an attorney, Ms. Munch started her public speaking career by developing training and key-note speeches based on her experiences.

"I think being a litigator helps in public speaking," she said. "Having a legal background helps a lot in terms of understanding how things work and understanding how to address different things pertaining to sexual assault."

The litigator-turned-speaker says her law training gave her the skills to talk about such a sensitive subject to various audiences - from young Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines new to the military to decision makers in communities across America.

"I help put words to things they don't know how to put words to," Ms. Munch said of her work.

While at Spangdahlem, she gave six one-and-a-half hour presentations focused on what she calls the "unnamed conspirator," an idea present in media, entertainment and society that essentially blames the victim for the crime.

"I had seen the dynamic of how it influenced people's thinking and had nothing to do with the evidence," Ms. Munch explained. "It was everywhere - in the news, media, courtroom. It occurred to me that this was the unnamed conspirator."

Since this discovery about eight years ago - mostly seen in courtrooms as she prosecuted sexual assault cases - Ms. Munch has been talking about the unnamed conspirator hoping to ignite a realization that sexual assault is a crime that can no longer be brushed aside.

"This, in essence, is my mission to keep doing this work," Ms. Munch said.

What does "this work" entail? Besides jet-setting across the U.S. - and sometimes the globe - to give presentations, it's providing training, guidance and knowledge about sexual assault cases to help people change the way they approach this crime, and stop it before it occurs.

Ms. Munch said she hopes her perspective gives people, "the opportunity to examine the influence of the unnamed conspirator on them as individuals and to examine if they hold double standards or misperceptions about the face of sexual assault. If people will take time out and rethink things, then it's a win."

Ms. Munch also helped develop the Air Force's newest Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training requirement, Bystander Intervention Training, which started here in February. The 90-minute training sessions separated into leadership, males and females teach people ways to effectively intervene in a situation that may lead to a dangerous or criminal event, namely sexual assault. This training, and the entire SAPR program, is leaps and bounds ahead of the civilian world in terms of addressing and responding to sexual assault, Ms. Munch said.

"This is a huge step and one the Air Force should be proud of," she said.

Ms. Munch's mission to end sexual assault is not the only thing that draws her to the Air Force or military audience in general. She grew up in an Air Force family and said she understands the Air Force values and what life in the military is like to an extent.

"Even though I'm not in the Air Force, to contribute to the benefits of the Air Force is really rewarding thing to do," she said.