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Help is a good thing: colonel, sexual assault survivor recounts experience

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The first in a video series of survivor stories, an Air Force colonel shared her graphic, first-hand experience with sexual assault in 1988.

After years of silence about the incident, Col. Pamela Lincoln voluntarily shared her experience with the hope that it might empower other survivors to come forward for the emotional, medical and legal support they need.

Interestingly, the path to her participation in this video was not sexual assault, but post-traumatic stress disorder. Lincoln was assigned to Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., when she learned a senior NCO in her unit had survived the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 70 others injured.

Among the dead was an Airman who, with the senior NCO, attended the movie that night.

"He had this tremendous sense of guilt," Lincoln said of the NCO. "He was open about the fact that he was suffering from PTSD and needed some time off to seek help."

Lincoln said the NCO's sense of courage resonated with her.

"That was so brave of him to come forward and say, 'I need help,' and that inspired me," the colonel said. "You don't have to be in combat to suffer from PTSD."

So when the opportunity arose for her to discuss her own experience, the decision was easy, she said.

"It was like this shot of cold air, the thought of talking about it," Lincoln said. "Getting over panic attacks, sleep deprivation and sudden bursts of anger ... is all part of the healing."

The video refers to one night in 1988 three months before she left for Officer Training School. Lincoln worked late and proceeded to walk home when what she assumed was a jogger behind her ended up being the approach of a perpetrator, who viciously strangled, raped and left her unconscious.

Lincoln's journey to healing has been long, but if even one Airman comes forward to report their experience after hearing her story, her participation will have been well worth it.
"It's actually a strong thing to admit you need help," she said.

To see the video and hear more about her reporting and healing process, visit http://afsapr.dodlive.mil/.

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