Team JSTARS takes action against sexual assault; spreads awareness

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Julie Parker
  • 116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from Team JSTARS partnered with the 78th Air Base Wing for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in an effort to combat sexual assault and fuel a culture of positive change throughout the local military community.

To kick off the campaign, 116th and 461st Air Control Wing members flooded the base's parking lots April 1 in a pre-planned parking lot blitz.

Volunteers handed out black and teal tote bags filled with Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program materials in a mass effort to raise awareness and educate members of the base.

According to Maj. Tasha Liscombe-Folds, 116th ACW Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, the DoD, as a whole, has changed its approach to sexual assault.

"We're moving away from the notion that protecting oneself from assault is a matter of personal responsibility," said Liscombe-Folds. "In the past, training focused on: Do this and do that and you can prevent sexual assault. None of the research or any cases we've had support that idea; we do not want victims to feel as if they are to blame."

"The Robins' Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program reinforces the Air Force's commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through awareness and prevention training, education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability," said Jayne Bishop, 78th ABW Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

According to Bishop, initiatives like the parking lot blitz and other events the base will host are essential towards spreading awareness. One of those events was the "Walk a Mile in Their Shoes" held here, April 11, as part of the month-long SAAM campaign. More than 40 participants from the 116th ACW and the 78th ABW came out to show support.

"The men and women of the 116th ACW are held to the highest standard both professionally and personally," said Col. Kevin Clotfelter, 116th ACW commander. "Sexual Assault Awareness Month gives us a chance to raise awareness and do our part to prevent any conditions that could contribute to such crimes."

According to Maj. Liscombe-Folds, there have been 105 reported sexual assault cases at our base alone since 2005. She said she believes the increase in reporting is evidence that the cultural paradigm toward sexual assault is changing.

"It's not that there are more incidents occurring--more victims are coming forward and reporting. They feel safe," she said. "In the end, the most important thing is getting help to the victim."

According to Maj. Liscombe-Folds, sexual assault has long-term psychological, emotional and physical effects on members that can negatively impact the mission.

"We're a family. We have a job to do, but we're not robots; we're humans. We want the victims to feel cared for. We want them to recover and heal," said Liscombe-Folds. "Through recovery, they are able to be a successful member of the team and the mission."

"Whether it happened before you came into the Air Force, while you were in the Air Force, or if it happened to a family member--our program can get you the help you need to be a thriving survivor," Liscombe-Folds added.