‘Do to others…’

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. David Liapis
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
If you have been following the news recently, you might have read or heard the stories of Audrie Pott - a 15-year-old California girl who was allegedly raped by three fellow high school students last September - and Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Nova Scotia who was also allegedly sexually assaulted in November 2011.

These sad stories unfortunately don't end there. The alleged perpetrators recorded the attacks and shared images with classmates or on the Internet. These young women took their own lives - Audrie eight days later after experiencing "the worst day in her life," and Rehtaeh 17 months after the event.

Here are cases that share a number of commonalities with many other sexual assaults - alcohol and supposed "friends." When we look at the circumstances of many other cases, it's not usually a random woman being attacked while running through the park or someone breaking into a home and assaulting someone in his or her bed. It's all too often "friends" perpetrating these crimes after the victim has consumed too much alcohol.

These tales involve three of some of the most troublesome societal, as well as military, top issues - misuse of alcohol, sexual assault and suicide. We have to understand that this is not "their" problem. This issue belongs to all of us.

So, what are we doing to help? Do we have each other's backs? Regardless of what catchphrase you want to attach to it - "be a good wingman," "be a Sensor Airman" or "don't be a passive bystander" - the point is this: "Do to others what you would want them to do to you."

The "Golden Rule" can be applied to everyone involved in a sexual assault. You want someone to have your back if you're unable to look out for yourself, right? Then act like a true friend and intervene, even if you're just a bystander. You want your friends to help prevent you from making bad decisions if they can, right? Then have the guts to stop your friends from doing something they will regret.

So, what should Audrie's and Retaeh's stories mean to you? If nothing else, they should cause your blood to boil and stir within you a deeper disdain for the horrible crime of sexual assault. But, don't stop there! Think about them. Think about what happened, why it happened and how to help prevent anything like it from happening to you, your friends or anyone else.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Air Force is joining various other people and organizations across the world to take time to put a special emphasis on this crime in hopes we can make a positive difference. What are you doing to help prevent sexual assault in your Air Force?