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Vance recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Team Vance is recognizing April as the Sexual Assault Awareness Month as part of the overall Department of Defense effort to educate its members about sexual assault related topics and to not tolerate these behaviors.

In 2005, the Air Force stood up the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office as the focal point for sexual assault related issues, and each base established a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. The coordinator is charged with encouraging a culture of respect for self and respect for others in keeping with the Air Force Core Values.

This year, the theme is "Prevent Sexual Assault: Ask, Act and Intervene!" The focus is on the correlation between alcohol usage and sexual assault. Every active duty, civilian, family member and contractor can have a positive role in preventing this devastating crime.

Although the media focuses on Rohypnol and GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) as rape drugs, alcohol is the substance most commonly used in drug facilitated rapes. Sexual predators use alcohol as a weapon, preying on particularly vulnerable individuals who have had too much to drink.

Alcohol intoxication can never be used as a defense for someone who commits sexual assault. Also, military law recognizes that when someone is unconscious, he or she is unable to give consent. If someone has sex with a person who is passed out or incapable of giving consent, it is considered sexual assault.

According to the 2008 Resource Guide for Sexual Assault Awareness month, research found that at least 80 percent of college students who had unwanted sex were under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, making some people more likely to commit rape.

Alcohol slows reflexes and impairs the ability to recognize potentially dangerous situations. Under the influence of alcohol, both men and women have a decreased ability to interpret social situations. Consequently, the risk of sexual assault for both sexes increases with alcohol use.

To increase a person's safety in dating situations, the following are some suggestions:

· Arrange to meet the person at a public place. If possible, double date or go out with a group of people.
· Go "Dutch" and eliminate the feeling of owing someone.
· Remember alcohol affects judgment and lessens inhibitions. If drinking, keep drinks in sight at all times and drink to moderation. One drink per hour, not exceeding three drinks per night, is a good rule of thumb.
· Don't assume because everyone says someone is "so nice," that he or she is safe.
· Listen to gut feelings. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Leave right away if meeting someone for the first time and know at the beginning of the date you aren't interested.
· Always let someone else know where you are going and who you will be with. Consider arranging a time to call and check in or arrange to meet up with friends later that night.

The opportunity now exists for victims to have restricted reporting; they have a choice concerning reporting to law enforcement or not. Highly trained and caring victims advocates as well as the SARC and SARC assistant are available to provide support throughout the recovery process.

For more information on preventing sexual assault or to talk with someone, call 213-5598 or stop in the SAPRO in Bldg. 312.