Helping those who need a shoulder to cry on

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Heather Stanton
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Web site, one in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In the United States alone, there is a sexual assault every two minutes. Most of these assaults are not reported.

I recently went through the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program's Victim Advocate training to help victims of sexual assault through their emotions. I wanted to become a victim's advocate because I believe all sexual assaults should be reported and wanted to help the victim in any way I could.

Through the training, I learned a lot about what goes through a victims mind after an assault. Victims are in a sensitive place and, if they report the assault unrestricted, they will have to relive the event numerous times which can break them down even more. If an active-duty member were to report the assault restricted, the victim would still get medical treatment and have evidence collected, but an investigation will not be opened.

If a victim makes an unrestricted report, I will be there for him/her throughout the investigation and, if necessary, the trial. I am the person who can validate the emotions of the victim and let him/her know that the feelings going through their mind are normal for such a situation. I can accompany the victim to any appointment and be there to explain what is going on.

For a restricted report, I will be there whenever the victim may need someone to talk to. I let the victim know they are not alone in the world.

The four-day training taught me how to be there for the victim throughout the phases of recovery and what victims are thinking after an assault. The course talked about the dynamics of an offender and the different variations of sexual assault. The class also included the step-by-step process of an investigation, and prosecution and medical procedures.

At times, the training was difficult, a lot went through my head of "What if that happened to me?" and "How could someone do that to another person?" But, the training opened my eyes and was a good experience, which prepared me in the unfortunate event that I get assigned a victim.

For more information on being a victim advocate, contact Capt. Theodore Rieth, 39th Air Base Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, at 676-SARC (7272).