April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
  • Program Office
Real Wingmen Act! That's the slogan for Tinker's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, officials challenge you to do something to make a difference.

SAPR is currently recruiting active duty service members and Department of Defense civilians to become Bystander Intervention facilitators and trained volunteer victim advocates. Victim advocates perform a wide variety of services in the Tinker community, ranging from organizing awareness functions within their squadron to directly aiding victims of sexual assault.

To be eligible to participate in the program, volunteers need an approval statement from their commander or director and the commitment to complete a 40-hour training program.

Each person will have a personal interview with the SARC and must possess the sensitivity and maturity needed to work with victims of sexual assault. Once training is completed, active duty members will receive a special identifier on their personnel record that enables them to be contacted to act as a victim advocate while deployed.

So what exactly is a victim advocate? The advocate:

· defends, supports, upholds -- publicly and privately -- victims of crime.

· is an informational resource for victims of crime regarding the criminal justice system and other government entities.

· helps victims understand their choices and the ramifications of their decisions.

· empowers victims and supports their choices without criticism.

· at all times maintains the confidences received from victims and represents victims' interests with respect and compassion

Being a volunteer victim advocate is a rewarding and enlightening job. Every victim of sexual assault is eligible for a victim advocate. The victim advocate provides essential support, liaison services and care to survivors of sexual assault. Responsibilities include providing crisis intervention, referral and ongoing non-clinical support, including information on available options and resources to assist the survivor in making informed decisions about the case. The victim advocate will aid their client in receiving the support they need and ensure that any obstacles to the client's needs are overcome. They may accompany their client to interviews with law enforcement, court appearances or simply be available to listen.

If you have an interest in this area and a desire to teach, the SAPR program is also recruiting volunteers to facilitate the Bystander Intervention Training groups. BIT is the new sexual assault prevention training that is required of all active duty Air Force and civilians who supervise ADAF. Volunteers will be trained to facilitate 90-minute groups of same gender participants. The goal is to have an open dialogue about beliefs and the realities of sexual assault.

Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault and bystander intervention is a critical piece of the puzzle. Did you know that approximately 60 percent of violent crimes in the U.S. are witnessed by a bystander? Sadly, bystanders only assist the victim about 10 to 15 percent of the time. The SAPR staff wants to teach people how to identify risky situations and safely intervene.

For information on becoming a victim advocate or a facilitator for Bystander Intervention Training, call the SARC at 734-9293.