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 Liberty Airmen are taking the initiative to help prevent sexual assault.
 The 48th Fighter WIng Sexual Assault Prevention and Response started the interveners program as part of as part of the Air Force's new Bystander Intervention Training program.
 The goal of the program is to teach Airmen to recognize red flags and encourage them to assist potential victims out of harm's way both on and off duty.
 
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If you saw someone being sexually assaulted, would you step up to help or just stand by? Airmen at RAF Lakenheath are stepping up to take a stand against sexual assault by volunteering as interveners during weekend nights as part of the Air Force’s new Bystander Intervention Training program. (U.S. Air Force Photo Illustration/ Staff Sgt. Megan P. Lyon)
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Stand by or intervene: what would you do?

Posted 4/21/2011   Updated 4/22/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Megan P. Lyon
48th FIghter WIng Public Affairs


4/21/2011 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- If you saw someone being sexually assaulted, would you step up to help or just stand by?

Airmen at RAF Lakenheath are stepping up to take a stand against sexual assault by volunteering as interveners during weekend nights as part of the Air Force's new Bystander Intervention Training program.

"Airmen are taking the initiative to help prevent sexual assault," said Airman 1st Class Amanda Richardson, 48th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller apprentice and victim's advocate. "If we see a situation that looks like it could lead to a potential sexual assault, we'll be here to step in."

In addition to intervening, the volunteers also offer escorts or rides homes for individuals living on base.

The BIT program was initiated by Air Force leadership as a collaborative effort between experts in the field and is the first program of its kind on such a scale.

"(The Department of Defense) leadership recognized the value of wingmen being able to recognize bad situations, alongside having a tool kit of strategies, to mitigate potential crimes," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Mayhew, 48th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program NCO in charge. "Roughly 60 percent of violent crimes in the U.S. are witnessed by bystanders; unfortunately only 10 to 15 percent of those bystanders actually intervene."

The program was designed to encourage Airmen to act when they witness inappropriate behaviors or situations that could possibly lead to sexual assault.

"It provides tools to the Airmen, enabling them to recognize potentially dangerous situations, and also provides strategies to alleviate possible harm to their wingmen," she added." We are looking to get away from the 'it's not my problem' mentality, and to make them realize that it is their problem. As wingmen we need to step up and take care of each other."

The goal of the program is to teach Airmen to recognize red flags and encourage them to assist potential victims out of harm's way both on and off duty.

In many cases alcohol plays a large role in many sexual assaults. The 2005 Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study, found that 98 percent of incapacitated rape cases involved alcohol.

In the majority of these cases the victim was purposely supplied with alcohol until they were rendered unable to make sound decisions, physically helpless, incapacitated or incapable of giving consent to sexual activity.

Anyone can intervene and diffuse the situation when a potential assault is witnessed.

"Depending on what you're comfortable with, either intervene yourself or find out who the person's there with," added Airman Richardson. "Get their friends involved, get your friends involved."

Although sexual assault is an issue around the world, the 48th FW SARC believe this program can help eliminate sexual assault at the Liberty Wing.

"The program is extremely important as it forces all Airmen to think about a subject that is seldom discussed in an open forum and non-threatening environment," said Sergeant Mayhew. "Unfortunately, the reality is that sexual assault happens; it is an ugly truth, but one that we all have to face and come together as wingmen to stop."

For more information or to volunteer, contact Sergeant Mayhew at 226-3765.



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