OCTOBER 3, 2014, MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (NNS) – Sailors and Airmen recognized sexual assault awareness during a silent march at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29.
Sailors and Airmen marched around Robert D. Edgren High School’s track that was lined with Kevlar helmets and flak jackets representing U.S. service members who have been sexually assaulted.
A sign displaying the Department of Defense’s sexual assault statistics marked the beginning of the march.
Service members were given markers to write a one or two-word description of their feelings about the event on a large banner decorated with the National Sexual Assault Awareness teal ribbon that marked the end of the march.
“One in four active duty military members who are assaulted actually report it,” said Lt. Jennifer Ayers, the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR point of contact for Sailors stationed at Misawa Air Base. “I hope today’s march paved the way for service members to feel comfortable about preventing sexual assaults and safe about coming forward to report them in the future.”
Ayers stated, consuming alcohol negatively affects decision-making ability and boundaries between people may become unclear. Alcohol is a contributing factor in 75 percent of all sexual assaults, she added. It impairs judgment and in many cases leads to false assumptions about the level of sexual contact with which a person may be comfortable.
Ayers also stated that openly communicating with your partners and friends while respecting their boundaries is a good sexual assault prevention practice.
“Service members can see their medical provider, chaplain, or sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) for counseling, medical care, and support without initiating a restricted or unrestricted report,” said Ayers. “Each victim’s freedoms are taken away during a sexual assault and our goal is to give the victim the choice of what happens next.”