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SAPR: "Protecting our people, Protects our mission"

Understanding the difference in reporting options.
(U.S. Air Force graphic by Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek)

Understanding the difference in reporting options. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Sexual Assault is defined as an unwanted sexual act against or without a person's consent. This type of assault encompasses more than violent physical incidents. Sexual assault refers to any sexual, physical, verbal or visual act that forces a person against their will to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention.

It can be an extremely difficult topic to discuss and one that is intensely personal, which is why the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is here to help.

The day-to-day mission of the SAPR Office is to educate, advocate and collaborate to respond to and stop sexual assault and its harmful effects on the Air Force.

According to Barry Newman, Keesler AFB SAPR victim advocate, a key objective of the SAPR program is to provide every Airman with standardized, developmental education and training throughout their career, strengthening the Air Force culture of dignity and respect and sustaining an environment inhospitable to sexual assault perpetrators.

“I’m very passionate about helping men and women who have been affected by sexual violence,” said Newman.  “Sexual violence is not a problem that anyone should ever have to deal with but unfortunately it does happen. A lot of people think this program only assists women but it’s important to know that we assist men too. We are open to anybody, whoever it is, no matter what their needs are that have been affected by sexual violence.”

The Keesler SAPR Office promotes a base-wide wingman culture that emphasizes the reduction of sexual assault risks that are directly connected to the Air Force’s focus on an entire force cultural shift. By providing the Keesler community with expressive sexual assault prevention tools, coordinated and compassionate victim care, the installation SARC and SAPR victim advocates offer a climate of program confidence in which Airmen feel safe reporting.

“When we brief new Airmen coming in we encourage them to know that if something happens, rest assured you have a place to go that’s safe and non-judgmental where you have people to talk to,” said D’ Angellette Woods, Keesler AFB SAPR program specialist. “We will assign a victim advocate and we try to match people with who they feel comfortable with whether that’s talking to a female instead of a male or vice versa.”

The Air Force has instituted avenues for reporting sexual assault in the form of restricted, unrestricted and independent reporting.

Restricted reporting-Restricted reporting allows a victim to report a sexual assault without triggering an investigation. It is intended to give the victim (survivor) time and control over the release of their information. Further, it also empowers the survivor to make an informed decision about participating in the criminal process. The sexual assault victim confidentially discloses the details of his or her assault and receives medical treatment and counseling; no investigation is initiated and the victim's command is not notified. A restricted report is between the survivor and the SARC, and all of the services offered by the SAPR Office are available.

Unrestricted reporting- Unrestricted reporting allows a sexual assault victim to disclose the details of his or her assault, receive medical treatment and counseling; but law enforcement will be notified to investigate. Unrestricted reporting is the same reporting option for any other crime reported in the military. The commander and first sergeant are notified to ensure the well-being of the Airman and of a probable investigation. The SAPR Office is still involved and provides all services offered and available, including throughout any legal processes.

Independent reporting is an assault reported by someone other than the victim.

The Keesler Air Force Base SARC serves as the single point of contact for integrating and coordinating sexual assault victim (survivor) care 24/7, 365 days a year.

People who have been sexually assaulted should call the Keesler SARC Hotline 24/7 at 228-377-7278.

Currently the SAPR Office is in need of a Reserve Unit Sexual Assault Response Coordinator who will be a liaison between the Reserve units on Keesler AFB and the installation SAPR Office. Also in need are volunteer victim advocates from the 403rd Wing.

“We are looking for individuals who want to do it for a long period of time and are passionate about helping other men and women who have been affected by sexual violence,” said Newman.

For more information on how to apply for the SARC liaison position, call 228-377-8635 or stop by the office located in Dolan Hall Room 156.