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Tinker participates in Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Statistics show that most victims of sexual assault know their attackers and that 85 to 90 percent of assaults are alcohol related.  Sexual assault victims at Tinker can call 734-SARC, which is a 24-hour hotline.  (Air Force photo illustration by Margo Wright)

Statistics show that most victims of sexual assault know their attackers and that 85 to 90 percent of assaults are alcohol related. Sexual assault victims at Tinker can call 734-SARC, which is a 24-hour hotline. (Air Force photo illustration by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- This April marks the seventh year people all over the United States have observed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. SAAM was created to encourage the prevention of sexual assault in America.
   Tinker Air Force Base will be participating in SAAM by hosting Ben Atherton-Zeman. Mr. Zeman puts on a one man show using humor to address the serious subject to audiences all over. Zeman will present his play April 18 at 10 a.m. at the Base Theatre presenting his play "Voices of Men."
   "This year we are doing the play because this guy is unique in that for so many years people have targeted women, you know we were supposed to learn judo, and karate and self defense, which is really not realistic because most women get sexually assaulted by someone they know. So instead of focusing efforts on women this play will focus on men making better judgment calls," said Michelle Loughlin, sexual assault response coordinator.
   According to statistics from the Tinker Sexual Assault office 85 to 90 percent of most of the sexual assaults that are seen alcohol is a factor and the victim usually knows their attacker.
   "You're more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know than someone off the street, the statistics make me feel safer at home from someone crawling in my bedroom window than say having a daughter who's out with some friends," said Ms. Loughlin.
   The statistics from the Sexual Assault office also state that the average age for sexual assault is 25 and under. It is estimated that one in six people will have been a target in attempted or completed sexual assault and 63 percent of people will know who raped them.
   Fortunately for Tinker members there are two options for reporting a sexual assault. Members are able to file a restricted or an unrestricted report. Restricted reporting lets military members report allegations of sexual assault without investigation to personnel including the sexual response coordinator, a healthcare provider, trained victim advocate or chaplain. The other option is an unrestricted report that would entail law enforcement stepping in and an investigation taking place.
   "It helps that we have the choice of doing a restricted or unrestricted report. When a victim of sexual assault calls I sit down with them and discuss the pros and cons of the two reports, said Ms. Loughlin, if they call us first. The thing with a restricted report is that evidence is kept and should you decide to file later the evidence will be there for one year, the kit is not processed, just kept in storage. Also, we don't do the exams here on base."
   Ms. Loughlin also added that they would really like people to first contact an advocate before going to someone higher rank, that way the victims knows all of their options. "Once it goes unrestricted there is no turning back. By going to a higher rank than yourself and telling them you were sexually assaulted it becomes mandatory for that authority to report it."
   Statistics show that last year 203 exams were done in Oklahoma City and 450 were done in Tulsa, the most exams were done on a Sunday and the month that had the most sexual assaults occurring last year was April. In 2006 the most sexual assaults occurred in October so nothing can depict when the most take place.
   "We've got to do better as bystanders and paying attention to what leads up to sexual assaults. We talk about encouraging people to take the keys from a drunk driver; we should feel as comfortable as that intervening with someone who is too drunk to make decisions. Be a good wingman," said Ms. Loughlin.
   Tinker victim advocates stress that although you may not want to go unrestricted with the sexual assault the most important thing is getting the medical care that is necessary to ensure that everything physically is satisfactory.
   "Statistically it is estimated that 92 percent of reports are true. It's a matter of shifting our mind sets, it's not ok for this to happen to people, said Ms. Loughlin, and the bottom line is the burden shouldn't be on the victim."
   If you have been the victim of a sexual assault you are encouraged to call TAFB Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team by calling 734-SARC, which is a 24 hour hotline.