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Your part in the movement to end sexual assault

  • Published
  • By 8th Fighter Wing
  • SARC Office
April 2015 marks the eleventh annual observance of Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM) in the United States. Like many of our stateside civilian and military counterparts, the 8th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office is offering a wide variety of observance events throughout the month for Kunsan Airmen. As the wing comes together to promote awareness, hone our response capability and foster camaraderie, it is important to reflect on a few key points.

First, take a look at how far our society, our military and ultimately our nation has come in the fight against sexual assault. There was a time not too long ago when there was no mechanism in place to assist victims suffering this significant trauma. There was a time when both men and women in the military often faced retaliation or reprisal for coming forward.   There was a time when victims felt they had no options. Since the initiation of the SAPR program back in 2005, the military and the Air Force have made great strides in developing a comprehensive prevention and response program to meet the needs of our Airmen. 

However, like any other program in its early stages, there is still much progress to be made in the years ahead. In the 2014 Assessment of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military, the RAND National Defense Research Institute estimates that approximately 20,000 of the U.S. military's 1.3 million active-duty members experienced one or more sexual assaults in the past year. While this is an improvement from the Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active-duty Personnel (WGRA) conducted in 2012, the statistics are still shocking. In both the military and civilian sectors, leaders have taken action to strengthen the criminal justice system, increase response capability and boost awareness initiatives. 

With these changes, our nation's leaders have also conveyed to the masses their stance on sexual assault: zero tolerance. But what exactly does zero tolerance mean? It is much more than just zero tolerance of the act of sexual assault itself. Ultimately, this comes down to zero tolerance of any attitudes, actions or behaviors that may harm another individual. Zero tolerance of a culture that enables sexual assault to occur. So what influences our culture?  What contributes and propagates cultural norms within our community? The answer is not necessarily a what, but a whom.

That's right, the answer is YOU! 

In his 2015 National SAAPM Presidential Proclamation, President Obama states, "It's on teammates, classmates, and colleagues to recognize sexual misconduct and intervene to stop it. It's on all of us to work for the change we need to shift the attitudes and behaviors that allow sexual assault to go unnoticed, unreported, and unpunished." As our commander-in-chief alludes to, each and every single person on our installation has a profound impact on our community and our culture. 

The theme for this year's SAAPM is "Eliminate Sexual Assault. Know Your Part. Do Your Part." The great news is a vast majority of our Airmen are already living and breathing this theme every day, even if they don't realize that they are. The men and women of the Wolf Pack, whether in the work place or in a social setting, continue to foster a climate of dignity and respect. When someone or something challenges this environment, we take responsibility to act and intervene to protect our brothers and sisters in arms. This not only works in preventing sexual assault, but also fosters an environment of safety and trust. This is critical when a victim comes forward to make a report, and assists in facilitating their progression from a victim to a survivor. 

We've come a long way in the movement to end sexual assault, but still have a ways to go. However, we are at the forefront of a major cultural shift, one that you play a huge part in. For that, we are proud to serve with you and thank you for your efforts to respect and protect the Wolf Pack!

For more information on upcoming 8th FW SAAPM events, please see the accompanying photo or the Wolf Pack bulletin.