By a Survivor
Sexual assault is a hot topic — one addressed in annual training and at commander’s calls throughout the Air Force — yet the details of victims’ stories are seldom mentioned. This is understandable. These crimes against service members are intensely personal. Also, as many survivors have learned, listeners don’t always know how to respond appropriately, which can make sharing one’s story awkward, even painful.
This is unfortunate. As humans we are drawn to stories. We reflect upon them and even internalize some of their values, ideas and attitudes. Stories communicate with extraordinary effectiveness, enabling us to learn not only from personal experience but also from others’ experiences. Are we missing out on a potentially powerful tool in the world of sexual assault prevention? Perhaps calling on survivors to bravely share their stories holds real potential for making those serving alongside them more aware of sexual assault and of ways they can prevent it in their spheres of influence. To that end, here is my story.
Like most men I know, I never really thought much about sexual assault. I saw the issue as predominately a female problem that only happened to males under highly unusual circumstances and in unusual settings, such as prison. So, each year I endured the Air Force’s mandatory sexual assault training but never examined people in my life for indicators of predatory behavior, or spent any time considering issues like stalking, grooming, or consent. Little did I know that, like many other victims of both genders, I was oblivious to the impending threat until it was too late. Continue reading Sexual assault survivor: One Airman’s story