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SARC's Remarks: Common factors in sexual assaults

  • Published
  • By Janaee Stone
  • Installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
Hearing about sexual assault may be the single most upsetting topic that commanders deal with. Currently the Hill Air Force Base community averages two sexual assaults each month and many of these involve two or more Airmen. This is a phenomenon that is hard to understand. How could someone who belongs to such a close-knit team, a group that requires excellence just to be a part of, take advantage of a fellow team member in a way that is life changing in a severely negative way?

In case after case, investigation after investigation, a few common denominators stand out. First and foremost is the over-use of alcohol, often by both parties, just prior to the event.

The incident sometimes sounds like this: There is a party, usually a house party, with drinking to excess. Then two individuals end up in a dark corner or quiet place alone. There may be consensual kissing or even touching, but then someone says, "No." This is where it all goes wrong, because the other person then chooses to disregard the "no" and proceeds to cross a line that is illegal, immoral and unacceptable.

Another situation that is very common is similar to the one documented in the film "Frank: The Undetected Rapist." Sexual predators exist out there and some, unfortunately, are even in the Air Force.

These sexual predators may host parties to find a victim to prey upon. They get their victim intoxicated by constantly offering the victim drinks that are sometimes even laced with certain inhibitory drugs such as rohypnol or other date rape drugs. As these drugs mixed with alcohol begin to take effect, the predator isolates the victim in a location where they are alone. That is where the subject proceeds to rape his unconscious victim.

When the effects of the drug and/or alcohol wear off and the victim comes to, the victim may or may not remember the events of the night before, having flashed in and out of consciousness while the rape was taking place. The victim may not remember a single thing from the night before but may feel that things are not right. The victim may feel that a rape took place and possibly may have bruises and scratches or skin underneath the fingernails.

This is why the role of a wingman is essential. As a wingman, it is his or her duty to drink responsibly and watch out for each other. This includes taking the keys away from a friend who is too drunk to drive and also making sure that friend does not become isolated at parties where he or she could be taken advantage of.

As a wingmen, each Airman also has the difficult duty of encouraging anyone he or she may thinks has been a victim of rape to get a evidence collected using a rape kit. It is the wingman's duty to stay with the victim and not only make sure that the victim is OK, but also to help the victim report the assault to the installation SARC. A wingman should be there as a friend but should also refrain from pressuring the victim to make a report. Remember, it is always the victim's choice whether to report a sexual assault or not.

As long as a wingman is not within the victim's chain of command, the victim has the option to make a restricted report if the victim chooses to do so. Along with reporting the assault immediately and offering support, a wingmen may also assist the victim in retaining any evidence within a 72-hour time period, such as:

* Maintaining the crime scene
* Advising a victim to not eat or drink, brush teeth, use mouthwash or shower
* Refraining from using or applying any medication until evidence has been collected
* Collecting urine in a plastic or glass container
* Collecting clothes in a paper bag

For more information on sexual assault, check the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response website, www.sapr.mil, and the 24-Hour Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Information Line, 1-888-421-1100