Stand down to stand up against sexual harassment and assault

4/19/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In a world that often blames sexual assault or harassment victims for the wrongs done to them, celebrating and highlighting the strength of those brave individuals is a breath of fresh air.

Whiteman Air Force Base's Sexual Assault Prevention Office will be holding just such an event later this month. "Stand Down to Stand Up to Sexual Harassment and Assault," an all-day event, will be held on April 26, 2013, and will involve numerous activities and opportunities for education and awareness.

"Every year during April we will do something as a program here to support Sexual Assault Awareness Month," said Amy Creighton, 509th Force Support Squadron SAPR program assistant. "This will be our third year putting on an event, but our first year putting on an all-day event."

The day will begin at 6:30 a.m. with a 5k Fitness Run in which the Equal Opportunity office will be helping with handing out water bottles and sports towels.

After the run, base personnel will participate in the annual Denim Day event, which aims to make a social statement against sexual assault misconceptions by trading in a uniform for a pair of jeans - a pair that is in good condition is a must, though.

The event will have a national speaker, Jeffrey Bucholtz, who is co-president of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and co-director of We End Violence.

All personnel are required to attend at least one of his presentations, which will be held at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. at the base club, and at 2:00 p.m. at the base theater.

Numerous leadership pathway classes will be offered throughout the day that all Airmen and dependents are invited to attend.

"Airmen at all levels can benefit from training on basic resilience and life skills," Creighton said. "Changing the focus from negative or problem focused to leadership and positive self-help allows Airmen to openly attend a class for themselves or to help others. It "de-stigmatizes" the concept that you should only attend a class if a problem exists. It is geared toward developing skills for those who advise, supervise, mentor or teach."

A community fair will also be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the National Guard Armory.
The day will wind down to a close at 7:00 p.m. with the annual Take Back the Night event, which is family friendly.

"The 'Take Back the Night' event is a free and family-friendly evening to give our Air Force families the chance to learn about sexual assault in the military," Creighton said. "The event began as a way to protest the violence that women experienced while walking in public at night. The purpose of these events was to speak out against this violence and raise community awareness as a preventive measure against future violence."

The USO will be on hand serving dinner and the Kansas City band, American Slim, will be providing live entertainment.

"I'm extremely grateful for the amazing support we have from our Wing leadership," said Ann Beem, 509th FSS SAPR program director. "They have allowed us the opportunity to focus on sexual assault prevention efforts. Whiteman has a large group of very dedicated Victim Advocates who have been a driving force in getting this day organized."

This is a first for the Whiteman SAPR program to have an entire day devoted to getting the sexual assault prevention message out to the community, Beem said.