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October 19, 2012

Sexual assault victims are not alone

NELLIS AIR FORE BASE, Nev. — The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office here is dedicated to promoting a base-wide wingman culture to reduce sexual assault risks, introduce meaningful prevention activities, and facilitate and coordinate compassionate response to sexual assault survivors and their family members in the Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases and Nevada Test and Training Range communities.

Leadership is adamant to reduce sexual assaults here and provide survivors with quality care.

“I am serious about keeping sexual assaults from happening,” said Col. Barry Cornish, 99th Air Base Wing commander. “Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported offenses. My goal is to create a climate where people feel more comfortable about reporting sexual assaults. We can’t get the victims the care they need unless they report that they’ve been assaulted.”

Some survivors may be hesitant to report an act of sexual violence.

“Each survivor reacts to sexual violence in their own unique way,” said Lisa Surette, 99th Air Base Wing sexual assault response coordinator. “Some may tell others what happened immediately, but many will wait days, weeks, months or even years. Some still will never choose to discuss the assault. The SAPR office understands that reporting on these topics is a difficult task and we want you to know that you are not alone.”

A survivor may not know how to seek help or report an act of sexual violence. There are three ways to report a sexual assault.

The first method of reporting is by making a restricted report.

“Military members and their adult dependents, 18 years and older, can choose to make a restricted report,” Surette said. “This allows the survivor to make a confidential report of a sexual assault to specified individuals who can ensure they receive medical care, counseling, and advocacy without notifying their chain of command or law enforcement. Individuals that can receive a restricted report without triggering an investigation are the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, a Victim Advocate, healthcare providers, and chaplains.”

With the option of making a restricted report, the SAPR office seeks reporting improvement.

“The hope is that this option empowers a survivor to seek relevant information and make an informed decision on what is best for them,” Surette said.

Another option a survivor can seek is an unrestricted report.

“This option will initiate an official investigation by law enforcement and can be made through current reporting channels [by reporting to a] supervisor, First Sergeant, Commander or reporting directly to law enforcement,” Surette said. “A survivor can also make a report to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator SARC, a Victim Advocate, healthcare provider and chaplains and request they notify law enforcement to start an investigation of the crime. Medical care, counseling and advocacy are also available under the unrestricted reporting option.”

The third way comes in the form of an independent report, where someone other than the victims report, which initiates an investigation.

Many survivors may have fears that stop them from reporting sexual violence. Sexual violence can happen to anyone of all ages, ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, and incomes and can be a difficult topic to understand.

“These violations go against our good order and discipline and have no place in our military,” Surette said. “The Nellis Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is committed to creating an environment that rejects sexual violence and creates and reinforces a culture change that addresses these attitudes and beliefs that allow this crime to continue.”

The Nellis Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office offers a 24/7 sexual assault response line to provide information and confidential access services at 702-652-7272.

Additionally, the Department of Defense has created a hotline available 24/7 worldwide for survivors, friends or family members at 1-877-995-5247 for anonymous and confidential support.




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