WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – April was Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Although the month may be over, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base continues to focus on creating the appropriate culture to eliminate sexual assault altogether.
“The awareness month may be in April but the campaign is all year long,” said Lydia Leasher, WPAFB sexual assault response coordinator. “We were able to get out into the community for these different events and meet amazing people. It’s my hope that we made it a little less intimidating to come into our office. We just want to talk and get you some resources and just have a conversation.”
Wright-Patt’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team planned numerous events during the month for the base community, including seminars, exhibits, a blood drive, bowling and various outreach displays around the installation. These events promoted and highlighted acts that bolster prevention, increase reporting and promote advocacy for a safer workplace community.
“We also held a Denim Day Drive for the entire month and collected 147 pairs of jeans that we are donating to the Airmen’s Attic,” said Anja Kelley, SAPR victim advocate. “We set up donation box at 14 different locations and the support from all the other organizations was great.”
Denim Day is the longest-running sexual assault awareness and prevention campaign in history. The campaign was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.
The awareness month success was a collaborative effort. The 88th Force Support Squadron held two SAAPM-sponsored fitness classes, multiple Wing Staff Agencies covered the cost for free bowling and the USO utilized their auditorium for the 88th Medical Group to conduct a blood drive and a “What Were You Wearing?” visual exhibit.
The exhibit displayed the exact outfit that victims of sexual assault were wearing while the crime happened. It was meant to show that regardless of what you are wearing, you can be a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
“The ‘What Were You Wearing?’ exhibit was very powerful,” said Jamie Rowe, SAPR victim advocate. “One of the individuals that submitted an outfit was reading other submissions and told me that she didn’t feel like anyone heard her until today. I also met a retired veteran that said he wished these types of programs were around back in his day. It was a very meaningful moment.”
The Wright-Patt SAPR team administers training and services across multiple units, including the 88th Air Base Wing, Air Force Materiel Command and more than 100 tenant units.
“The SAPR office strives for our community to be aware of our resources, and April’s SAAPM activities provided a great opportunity for that,” said Leasher. “We operate to believe, educate and advocate for our clients and the community that we work with and empower those around us.”
The Wright-Patt SAPR office is available 24/7 at 937-257-7272 or email@example.com. For more information about sexual assault prevention and response, visit https://www.wpafb.af.mil/Units/SAPR/.