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Stand up against sexual assault, make a difference

(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Senior Airman Alexandre Montes)

(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Senior Airman Alexandre Montes)

BOLLING AFB, D.C. -- April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month to raise awareness and promote prevention of sexual assault. The 2007 Department of Defense theme, "Stand Up Against Sexual Assault - Make a Difference," asks us to help cultivate an atmosphere that fosters respect and makes evident our intolerance for sexual assault of any kind. 

One element of preventing sexual assault is to understand exactly what it is and what to do about it. Sexual assault is intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, when the victim does not or cannot consent to such actions. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, including males, at any time or place. It is more about power and control than sex. 

If you have been sexually assaulted, you should:
● Find a safe place and call the sexual assault response coordinator. Together you can discuss your options and decide what reporting option is best for you. 

● Seek medical attention. If possible, do not shower or clean any part of your body, because this will enable hospital personnel to gather evidence. 

● Contact a trusted friend, family member or counselor. Know that it was not your fault, and that it is normal to feel guilt, fear or shame. 

There are ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. The National Crime Prevention Council advises: that you should be aware of your surroundings, walk with confidence, control alcohol intake, be assertive, trust your instincts, avoid walking or jogging alone - especially at night, and park in well-lit areas. These are just a few; more can be found at the NCPC website, www.ncpc.org

While these steps can help reduce your risk, the only way to prevent sexual assault from occurring is to prevent offenders from perpetrating the crime. Seek help if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, it is only a phone call or click away. 

For more information, contact the 11th Wing sexual assault response coordinator at (202) 404-5738, or e-mail 11wg.sarc@bolling.af.mil. Military OneSource is also an excellent resource for reporting and seeking assistance. 

The 11th Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is coordinating activities to assist the Department of Defense in its efforts to promote awareness and prevent sexual assault. Look for tables with information, more articles and a brown-bag lunch seminar about online predators.