By Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Last month, the Schriever Air Force Base Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office hosted events for Airmen and their families in an effort to raise awareness on sexual assault and prevention strategies.
In light of recent awareness of the #MeToo movement, the SAPR office reminds Airmen that prevention is a 24/7 effort.
“The purpose of the #MeToo movement is to help survivors of sexual violence find pathways to healing and have a platform to share their stories,” said Cecilia Smith, acting sexual assault response coordinator with the SAPR program office. “It is so important to continue the effort to protect each other to maintain a safe environment.”
Department of Defense officials conducted studies which reported sexual assault in the U.S. military increased by nearly 10 percent in 2017.
According to officials, the reason for the rise in numbers does not necessarily relate to an increase in assaults, but an increase in more military members coming forward who trust their cases will be handled professionally and without retribution.
“In the military, sexual assault cases have gone underreported,” Smith said. “However, I believe people understand and are becoming more comfortable reporting and know exactly who they can go to for this. They know they have a voice they may not have felt they had before.”
While the SAPR office encourages base members to speak up if they encounter inappropriate behavior, they also are reminding Team Schriever of possible outcomes from posting #MeToo on their social media accounts.
“Something to remember is by saying #MeToo, it could apply to a gamut of situations.” said Devon Thomas, alternate sexual assault response coordinator with the SAPR program office. “Because this can lead to so many questions about specific details, there could be an investigation that potentially opens up.”
“We do not want to discourage anybody from posting #MeToo, but we also want to bring awareness to base members that there are other avenues to express that,” Smith added. “We want to remind people to be careful about what they put on social media.”
Both Smith and Thomas stated their doors are always open for Schriever AFB members to stop by and discuss their concerns in a safe environment.
Additionally, members can visit the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, security forces and the chapel office.
“In order to build our Air Force community, we need to know we are not alone and are able to rely on each other,” Thomas said. “We fight together, we protect our country together and we should also take care of each other. If you see something, stand up and be that voice so the next person does not have to say #MeToo.”