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Sexaul assault victim advocates make a difference

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program has helped educate and train Service members as well as respond to cases of sexual assault since 2005.  The SAPR Office seal, a teal blue awareness ribbon intertwined with a pentagon, highlights the Department of Defense’s commitment to the program’s mission.  (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley/Released)

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program has helped educate and train Service members as well as respond to cases of sexual assault since 2005. The SAPR Office seal, a teal blue awareness ribbon intertwined with a pentagon, highlights the Department of Defense’s commitment to the program’s mission. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley/Released)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Being a survivor of sexual assault can be a traumatic event but volunteers in the 116th Air Control Wing are dedicated to ensuring survivors of sexual assault get the care they need and deserve.

If you are a victim of sexual assault you do not have to bear the burden of that trauma alone. Victim advocates aid the Sexual Assault Prevention Response office in ensuring that survivors of sexual assault are treated with dignity, respect and compassion.

The 116th ACW's Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, Lt. Col. Michael Rumsey and Maj. Tasha Liscombe-Folds, are committed to providing trained, compassionate victim advocates to aid both male and female survivors of sexual assault.

"Victim advocates bring comfort to the survivor by letting them know they are not alone," said Rumsey. "Sometimes knowing someone believes them and cares enough to help can make all the difference."

The men and women of the 116th ACW who volunteer to be victim advocates are required to be certified by the DoD in cooperation with the National Organization of Victim Advocates. The program includes extensive background checks, an interview and 40 hours of intensive training according to Liscombe-Folds.

"The intense credentialing process ensures that victim advocates are properly trained and qualified to help survivors get the resources they need," said Rumsey.

Victim advocates have confidentiality privileges. They provide care to survivors and advise them on their reporting options.
"I became a victim advocate to give survivors a voice," said Senior Master Sgt. Tanya Greene, superintendent of the 116th Services Flight. "It is great that the Wing recognizes the need for victim advocates and will do what it takes to make survivors feel safe."

Victims of a sexual assault are encouraged to contact the 116th ACW's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at 478-808-5331.

Confidential, professional support is also available through the DoD Safe Helpline. The help line can be contacted by calling 877-995-5247 or online at www.safehelpline.org.