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NEWS | April 13, 2011

Sexual Assault Awareness Month personal testimony

By Staff Sgt. Jacylynne Iglesias 83rd Network Operations Squadron technician

When I first entered the military, a friend confided in me that she awoke with one of her superiors in her bed. She did not remember what happened the night before, but knew she did not consent to having sex with him. I wanted to be there for her but did not want to break her trust. So I stayed quiet and prayed for her. Then, when the Air Force was recruiting for Victim Advocates (VA) in 2005, I felt that I found my calling.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year's campaign is "Hurts One ... Affects All." As Airmen, we have to be involved because sexual assault affects everything from mission readiness to team effectiveness. Looking back, I wish I had done something to help her. Bystanders or witnesses should not be afraid to speak up and to do something to prevent a sexual assault or be afraid to respond if one occurs. Get involved by educating yourself and others or volunteer to become a VA.

Sexual assault is an underreported crime. Many stay quiet because of fear of reprisal, loss of privacy or that authorities would not believe them. As VA's, we are there to provide victims with options and resources to make informed decisions as they progress through resolution and healing on toward survivorship. We are there to help victims understand the options such as restricted and unrestricted reporting.

Unrestricted Reporting
This option is for victims who desire medical treatment, referral services, and an official investigation of the crime. Details of the assault will be limited to only those that have a legitimate need to know such as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, the Office of Special Investigations, law enforcement, health care personnel, and your chain of command.

Restricted Reporting
This option is for victims who reports to the SARC or health care personnel who desire to get medical and/or counseling assistance without triggering an official investigation. Victims are empowered to confidentially disclose the crime and identify their perpetrator. This option also gives the victim time to consider whether and when to move forward to pursue unrestricted reporting.

If you have been sexually assaulted
- Get to a safe location.
- Contact the SARC: 1-877-316-4689
- Seek medical care as soon as possible.
- Do not wash, bath, or brush your teeth to preserve all evidence.
- Record all the details you can remember.