52nd FW participates in SAAPM observance

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marcus Hardy-Bannerman
  • 52nd fighter Wing Public Affairs

April is a time of observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month for U.S. military and civilian communities across the globe. SAAPM is a time to review and emphasize the available resources and support that are available year-round.

Although eliminating sexual assault is the responsibility of all, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office spearheads this effort by spreading awareness and supporting survivors.

What the SAPR office does is important because it lets people know there are resources and that there is help, said 1st Lt. Brandon Patten, 52nd FW SAPR deputy sexual assault response coordinator. It lets people know that there’s a dedicated team to assist them and help connect them with the support they need.

There are a multitude of resources available to everyone at the 52nd FW, from the chaplains, to the Airman and Family Readiness Center, to first sergeants, and even more.

An individual may have difficulty seeing a way forward and understanding their resources while dealing with a traumatic experience, and that’s one of the many ways SAPR can help.

“I feel like our program is so important because we can help people get through that fog and say here are the resources,” said Kristi Hernandez, 52nd FW SAPR lead victim advocate. “We’ve all heard the resources over and over again, we know mental health, we know the chaplain, we know Military and Family Life Counseling, but after a traumatic event that stuff does not connect.”

Empathy is a large part of being able to truly assist someone going through a trying time. Those chosen to lead this fight against sexual assault must know how to properly employ that empathy in service of another through dozens of hours of training and a continuous reassessment of internal biases to ensure they do not revictimize survivors.

The training, the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program, is comprised of teachings on victimology, trauma response, developing empathy, the unique circumstances that can surround different victims of sexual assault, advocating for someone, building interpersonal skills and so much more, said Patten. The training can help people better recognize some of the unconscious biases that might influence their interactions with survivors.

People unaware of their biases or unaware of their misconceptions regarding sexual assault are at risk of faulting the victim.

“It’s not about what they wear, it’s not about how much they drink, it’s not about all these different ideas we hear,” said Hernandez. “That’s victim blaming.”

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are never the victim’s fault, no one is immune and everyone is responsible. For those unaware of the necessary part they play in tackling the issue, SAAPM’s concentration on reflection and awareness is essential.

The purpose of SAAPM events is to give people a chance to get educated on issues regarding sexual assault through discussion and literature and to get face-to-face time with those in the SAPR office, said Hernandez.
Events put on by the 52nd FW SAPR office, such as the Walk a Mile in Their Shoes and 17 Laps for 17 Years events, are a unique experience designed to give people a way to broach a serious subject.

The 17 Laps for 17 Years event celebrates the enactment of dedicated SAPR offices throughout the Department of Defense 17 years ago by having participants walk 17 laps on a track, although the focus is less exercise and more spreading knowledge.

“Come learn something that you might not know or come meet victim advocates that are in your squadron or come meet the SARC or the SAPR victim advocate or come get some snacks or free food,” said Patten. “Just trying to have opportunities to kind of build connections and break down barriers.

Any opportunity to build connections or break down barriers between the base and the SAPR office are crucial to increasing awareness.

Until the day sexual assault is eradicated, the 52nd FW, the Air Force and the DoD are dedicated to supporting victims and prosecuting those who would harm others through the chain of command and the UCMJ.

Spangdahlem 24/7 Response: 06565-61-7272 or 452-7272
GSU: +49 6565-61-7272
Office (non-emergency): 06565-61-6524 or 452-6524

DoD Safe Helpline: 877-995-5247
Website: https://www.safehelpline.org/

To understand more, visit your SARC office or you can check out supporting information like….https://www.resilience.af.mil/SAPR/

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