by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
Headquarters Pacific Air Forces
5/5/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Headquarters
Pacific Air Forces members participated in sexual assault and
prevention response training April 28 here as part of Sexual Assault
Awareness and Prevention Month in April.
The training focused on proper victim response and changing the Air Force climate toward sexual violence.
"The theme of this month is 'Eliminate Sexual Assault. Know your part.
Do your part,'" said Gen. Lori J. Robinson, PACAF commander. "That
second part is huge and important to internalize -- do your part. We
should all create a climate of dignity and respect. We have made huge
strides, but we still have a way to go to continue communication."
After the general presented opening remarks, Machelle Terrell, 15th Wing
installation sexual assault response coordinator, led PACAF in
interactive training that included scenarios designed to showcase how
members should respond to someone who is a victim of sexual assault or
"How you respond makes a difference," she said.
Ways to positively respond include being willing to go with them to get
help, being non-judgmental, providing helpful tools and resources, not
asking a lot of questions and using encouraging words.
To drive home a vital point, Terrell asked audience members to turn to
the person next to them and share their best sexual experience, stopping
them before actually sharing the experience.
"How difficult was it to tell someone your best experience? Now, think
about how difficult it would be for a victim to tell their worst sexual
experience," Terrell explained.
As part of sexual assault prevention, both Robinson and Terrell
highlighted the importance of changing the Air Force climate and
"We need a climate that addresses the different attitudes, beliefs and
interactions of Airmen," Terrell said. "We need to operate outside the
continuum of harm and create healthy environments that are conducive
with respect and dignity. Ending sexual violence means going to the
source and stopping it before it begins."
Providing an example to help Airmen envision the proper climate, Terrell
asked members to imagine a bridge representing Air Force culture and
climate. If the bridge is deteriorating, it means the climate is not a
To help determine if the bridge is safe, Airmen need to gauge the
climate and know whether they are operating in the "danger zone" or not.
To keep the bridge intact, Airmen need to make the culture and climate
safe for victims and one in which perpetrators can't easily operate in.
According to the Department of Defense annual report of sexual assault
in the military, about 1 in 3 Airmen, or 33 percent, reported
experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2014. There were 1,350 sexual
assault reports and prevalence for and estimated 2,400 victims of sexual
This is compared to the following numbers in 2012 -- about 1 in 6
Airmen, or 16 percent, reported experienced unwanted sexual contact;
there were 1,050 sexual assault reports and prevalence for an estimated
3,200 victims of sexual assault.
Victims have several resources and tools at their disposal. For
restricted reports, victims can talk with their local chaplain, SARC or
victim's advocate (security forces, OSI and Airmen's chain of command
are legally obligated to report sexual violence).
Each Air Force base has a 24/7 hotline which can be reached by dialing
the base prefix followed by SARC -- example 448-SARC (7272) -- or
victims can call the DoD Safe Hotline at 877-995-5247.