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Sexual assault prevention film must-see for Airmen

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 26, 2005) -- A new training video recently distributed to the Air Force through vice wing commanders is required viewing for all Airmen.

All Airmen must view the new video, entitled "Targeting Sexual Assault," by Nov. 1. It is part of a larger Air Force campaign to educate Airmen about the realities of sexual assault, the prevention responsibilities of every Airman, and the efforts the Air Force is making to enhance prevention and response capabilities, said Charlene Bradley, who led the Air Force task force review and program development.

The training video features important messages by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald R. Murray, and Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, deputy chief of staff of the Air Force for personnel. Those senior leader messages focus heavily on Air Force core values, on the "Wingman" concept and on respect for each other.

"We must ensure that every Airman understands that sexual assault is a crime and an egregious breech of our core values," General Brady said. "Our respect for ourselves, each other and our Air Force, are principles in our core values, principles violated when Airmen take advantage of other Airmen."

As part of an introduction to the training portion of the video, General Jumper tells commanders and Airmen what he wants them to take away from the film.

"I want every Airmen to know what sexual assault is and how to report it," he said. "I want commanders and supervisors to support a policy and foster a climate that encourages reporting and cares for victims when they do report. And I want commanders to take appropriate action when sexual assault has occurred."

The main training portion of the video is a dramatization of a rape scenario, where mutual friends introduce two Airmen to each other. The fact the two know each other is an important part of the film, Ms. Bradley said, because it helps dispel one of the most common myths about rape.

"The biggest myth is that rapists wear ski mask and jump out of bushes -- that they are the only rapists," Ms. Bradley said.

The reality is that the majority of rapists are nonstranger rapists -- someone the victim knows. The video will help educate Airmen about that fact, and will also help dispel other myths about rape, said Claudia Bayliff, the new Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program chief.

"Statistics show approximately 85 percent of rapists are somebody known to the victim," Ms. Bayliff explained. "Another myth about rape is that the victim is somehow responsible, the victim provoked it or caused it. In addition, many think that nonstranger rapes are just a 'miscommunication,' or that they are caused by too much alcohol. What we are trying to show with the video is that these non-stranger rapes are usually premeditated."

The video also helps viewers understand the role of facilitators and bystanders -- individuals who either consciously perpetuate an environment that enables non-stranger rapists to function, by offering encouragement and failing to act, or by having knowledge and failing to intervene. The goal is to teach Airmen how to intervene to protect each other.

Also part of the training film is a discussion on the Air Force's implementation of the Department of Defense's restricted reporting policy, and the Air Force's new Sexual Assault Response Coordinator program.

The training video is part of a larger Air Force program to reduce sexual assault through education and awareness. The program includes five major initiatives that focus on strong leadership and clear and integrated policy; prevention through education and training; improved care for victims; improved reporting procedures for victims; and ensuring new initiatives translate to the deployed environment.

"The Air Force is engaging in institutional change on this issue at a profound level," Ms. Bayliff said. "In all my years of working on this issue, I have never seen anything like this. This is a huge institutional change that is really unprecedented."