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April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is every Airman’s responsibility to understand the importance of changing the Air Force culture by bringing awareness to sexual assault.

Part of being knowledgeable on sexual assault prevention is knowing who to go to if ever in need. The Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office is a department that is featured at all Air Force installations and has the primary goal of taking care of victims of sexual assault. The SAPR office at Tyndall is here to provide a support system for those affected by sex crimes.

“We [victim advocates] are trying to eliminate sexual assault, but it does happen and we want the victims to know we are here to support them,” said Quintrina Edwards, 325th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate.

The Air Force has developed many avenues for sexual assault victims to receive aid during their time of need. The military encourages its members to speak out against sexual advances and seek help when it’s needed. This will help to create a changing mindset, as a result altering the military’s culture.

The culture shift in the military is happening through a variety of ways. One of the ways the Air Force is accomplishing this is by offering sexual assault victims two reporting options; a restricted and unrestricted report.

“A restricted report means the survivor does not want to hold the person accountable through an official investigation and judicial process, but they still want to seek support services through us,” Edwards said. “A restricted report is a gift of time.”

An unrestricted report will launch an official investigation and will hold the perpetrator responsible for the crime if proven guilty.

“A restricted report can also be someone who is unsure of what they want to do, but they want to put it down on paper in case they change their mind,” said Christine McGill, 325th FW Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “A restricted report can become an unrestricted report at any time.”

The SAPR office is a central point for victims to not only report a sexual assault, but to get in contact with many great resources available on and off base.

“Our program is more than just reporting options, we are a collection point to get in touch with other resources or outreach programs from the health department to internal agencies on base,” Edwards said.

The SAPR office also offers more than just counseling and reporting avenues, though time is a factor, certain medicines can be offered to help survivors.

“There are a lot of resources that people don’t know are available such as medication that can mitigate HIV or Plan B for a female who does not want to conceive by her perpetrator, but these resources are time sensitive,” Edwards said.

An expedited transfer is also an option for sexual assault victims, who file an unrestricted report.

“This program offers the victim the ability to get out of a hostile environment and transfer to another base where a much better support system is in place,” Edwards added.

Eligibility for the SAPR program is as follows:

·         Active duty military members (Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps)

·         Air Force Reservists or Air National Guardsmen performing active or inactive duty training

·         Coast Guard members when operating as a service of the Department of the Navy

·         Military family members who are at least 18 years old

To receive more information or to seek support services contact the SAPR office at 850-283-8192 or the hotline number at 850-625-1231.

“I challenge the readers to lock that number in their phone, even if they do not need it, you never know who will,” Edwards said.