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Be Part of Sexual Assault Solution

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- April is sexual assault awareness month. One out of three women and one out of four men have experienced some form of sexual assault or have been victimized by harassment or bullying.

Everyone is affected by sexual harassment or violence, either directly or by knowing someone who is a survivor of sexual assault or harassment.

Dr. Alan Berkowitz is an expert on violence whom I admire greatly. He once said that "Part of the solution requires that we do something about the problem whether or not we believe that we have any responsibility for causing it."

"Hurts one. Affects all" is the theme for sexual assault awareness and prevention in the Air Force. As you can see, this is a problem that affects us all.

It is obvious to see how sexual violence hurts the victim, physically and emotionally. What is not so obvious is how it affects you, the reader of this article. The victims of sexual violence and harassment are much more than victims. While both women and men are affected by this, women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault and harassment in the work place. They are sisters, wives, girlfriends, co-workers, and people we interact with every day. Needless to say, we all have women in our lives that we care about, none of whom we would want to fall victims of this horrific crime.
So, how do you become part of the solution?

By intervening in situations you observe that may lead to a sexual assault occurring. Intervening, or being an ally does not need to be a "in your face confrontation," it can be more passive by creating a distraction or a diversion to separate the possible victim from a possible perpetrator.

You will learn more about bystander intervention during bystander intervention training being given between now and the end of June. Also, stop by the DFAC during the April UTA during the lunch hours for information handouts. I will be present along with the wing's victim advocates. I look forward to seeing you in class, at the DFAC, and in your areas.