Empowering Change: Observing SAPR Month in the military community

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kylee Tyus
  • 62d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month (SAAPM), a time dedicated to raising awareness and promoting prevention of sexual assault within the military community.

During this month, military personnel and their families come together to educate, support, and empower each other in the fight against sexual assault in and out of the work environment.

“Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month not only brings awareness to what is happening in the world daily, but also how it affects our local community,” said Sieda Jones, the sexual assault and response coordinator with the 62d Airlift Wing.

According to the Department of Defense, during the 2022 fiscal year, for every 1,000 Airmen and Guardians, 5.3 individuals reported a sexual assault.

According to Jones, education and awareness play a key role in preventing sexual assaults from taking place.

“I believe the lack of education and awareness is a huge contributor,” said Jones. “We’re growing as a society, which also means we need to evolve in how we address issues such as sexual assault. It is happening regardless of if we want to discuss it or not, so best practice is to constantly get comfortable with being uncomfortable and having the conversations.”

To aid in having these difficult conversations here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the 62d AW Sexual Assault and Prevention office is collaborating with the JBLM Sexual Harassment, Assault Response and Prevention program, as well as a few agencies in the community to raise awareness.

One way they plan to carry this out is by holding various community and base events such as the upcoming Air Force versus Army basketball tournament to recognize and educate service members about SAAPM.

“We want to bring a new approach to how people receive information and view the SAPR program,” said Jones. “Often, the challenges come when trying to get people to understand we all have a role in preventing sexual violence. My best way to address this is through creativity. I find new ways to present the information where it is more digestible.”

A 62d AW SAPR office representative states they are working on building relationships with the community and changing the narrative around sexual violence prevention. Events like the Air Force versus Army basketball tournament are not only meant to bring awareness, but also offer an opportunity to connect with service members from different branches.

“My hope is that by raising awareness about sexual assault it will flip the narrative for survivors and victims and empower them to come forward, restricted or unrestricted, and get the help they deserve,” said Samantha Robertson, a Sexual Assault and Prevention victim advocate with the 62d AW.

According to Robertson, sexual assault is still one of the most under reported crimes often leaving the victim confused, full of shame and doubt.

“I believe that key factors contributing to sexual assault in our society today are lack of awareness, and lack of respect,” said Robertson.

For more information and resources on sexual assault prevention visit https://www.sapr.mil/ or for 24/7 support call the DoD Self Helpline 877-995-5247.