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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Focus on recognition, prevention

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and programs around the country are committed to raising awareness and promoting the prevention of sexual violence. In the spirit of SAAM, I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce myself as the wing's new Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, or SARC. 

The SARC falls under the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, which reinforces the National Guard Bureau commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through a comprehensive policy that centers on awareness, prevention education, and victim advocacy. I am available to provide emotional support, victim advocacy, information and referrals and support through the medical and legal process for victims of sexual assault. These services are available 24 hours a day, every day. 

Did you know that 1 out of 5 American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime? Whether you knew it or not, someone you know has been affected by sexual assault. The Air Force core values and respect are the foundation of our Wingman culture - a culture in which we look out for and take care of each other. 

Here are some important definitions we must all be aware of in the case we or someone we know is affected by sexual assault: 

Sexual Assault is a crime defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy, and other unwanted sexual contact that is aggravated, abusive or wrongful or attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship, or age of victim. 

Consent means words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent. 

Unrestricted reporting is the process where disclosure of a sexual assault initiates an official criminal investigation. Leadership and law enforcement will be notified that a sexual assault has occurred. It allows the victim to seek medical treatment, counseling, and an official investigation. 

Restricted reporting enables active duty Title 10 and Title 32 Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) victims to confidentially disclose a sexual assault to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and/or counseling without triggering the official investigative process. The victim's privacy is of utmost importance, but he or she has the option to change the report to unrestricted. 

Limited reporting is similar to restricted reporting but applies to traditional Title 32 Guardsmen and Title 32 military technicians. Victims also have the option to change the report to unrestricted. 

Remember, you are not alone and help is available. If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can seek help from your nearest Rape Crisis Center. Go to www.calcasa.org and enter your zip code. If have questions about the program, feel free to call my any time on my cell at 650-793-1749. You can also email me at alyson.teeter@us.af.mil.  Lt. Col. Pete Sobrino is the wing's alternate SARC and his telephone number is 650-603-9137.

Motivated volunteers needed to be Victim Advocates
Victim Advocates provide essential support, liaison services and care to a sexual assault victim. They are military personnel selected by the SARC and who have completed a 40-hour training course. Victim Advocates are volunteers who must possess the maturity and experience to assist in very sensitive situations. 

Responsibilities include:
- Providing crisis intervention, referral and ongoing non-clinical support
- Providing information on available options and resources to assist the victim in making informed decisions about the case
- Services will continue until the victim states support is no longer needed
- Does NOT provide counseling or other professional services to a victim
- May accompany the victim, at the victim's request, during investigative interviews and medical examinations 

For more information on becoming a Victim Advocate, please contact Capt. Alyson Teeter at 650-603-9152.