Hurts One, Affects All: April is sexual assault awareness month

  • Published
  • By Capt. Lisa Thomas
  • 934th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
Sexual assault can happen to anyone. Your gender, age, or relationship status won't change that.

The Air Force wants to make certain all service members and civilians are held accountable when it comes to sexual assault awareness and prevention. Every year, the Air Force recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness month. This year's slogan "Hurts One, Affects All: Preventing Sexual Assault is Everyone's Duty," highlights the fact that the scope and impact of a sexual assault extends far beyond the primary victim and can negatively affect spouses, family members, friends, and co-workers.

When a sexual assault occurs in the military, it can harm the mission readiness of a command and create a negative and difficult climate.

To support this, all 934th Airlift Wing leaders, military members, and civilians who supervise military members are receiving a new Air Force training called Bystander Intervention Training or BIT. The new training, geared for small groups and interactive skill development, helps train Airmen to stop sexual assaults before they occur. Each member is required to attend the training once.

Bystander Intervention Training teaches a "Pro-Social" bystander stance that focuses on the power of a bystander. Prior to attending the training, most Airmen aren't aware of the potential they have to help their fellow Wingman. In the training, Airmen learn the right skills to help intervene in potential assaults. To ask someone to intervene is asking a lot of a person, and may seem uncomfortable to some. Sometimes it is unpopular to others around them. But, when you know what to look for and how to help, you're less likely to step into an uncomfortable situation and helping becomes second nature.

The overall goal of Bystander Intervention Training is for every Airman to be prepared to intervene, support their Wingman, and break the cycle of sexual assault. While this may sound like an impossible task, each assault we prevent brings us one step closer to our goal.