ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Ellsworth Air Force Base is honoring Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month by hosting events to raise awareness and highlight the efforts of victim advocates.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office reaches out to the community by coordinating with base agencies to ensure SAAPM is as effective as possible in preventing sexual assault and violence.
“Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is an opportunity for individuals nationwide to refocus our efforts,” said Bernie McFarling, the 28th Bomb Wing sexual assault response coordinator. “We realize that sexual assault prevention is not always the most forefront thought on people’s minds. Having this month as a part of our schedule allows us to take a closer look at awareness in the community.”
McFarling and her SAPR team are engaging with the local and base community throughout April to raise awareness of resources aimed to help those affected by sexual assault. The team launched a new campaign, Take 5, to help them accomplish their tasks. It’s a local initiative designed to prevent sexual assault by encouraging people to take five minutes to be more deliberate in one’s thoughts and actions.
“Take 5 is all about showing respect and dignity to others around us,” McFarling added. “It doesn’t matter if it’s at home, work or your friends, they all deserve the same treatment. The campaign is there to make people think five minutes, five hours or even five years ahead and think about how it could affect them.”
In addition to introducing the Take 5 campaign, the SAPR team is hosting four events during SAAPM to help spread awareness and promote sexual assault prevention.
The SAPR team hosted a race, a candlelight vigil, prevention-focused luncheon and a difficult discussions forum that was coordinated with the 28th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity Office.
During Wingman Day, April 20, the SAPR team hosted an obstacle course race that featured a mix of physical and mental exercises across nine locations on Ellsworth AFB. Six teams of three competed for the best time. After each challenge, the teams were presented a hypothetical SAPR related situation, which upon diffusing, were able to advance. McFarling said her team hoped to reinforce the information they have already provided to the base community.
“I liked what the race was supporting and how important it was,” said Senior Airman Allison DeFrancesco, a 28th Communications Squadron cyber systems operations technician. “There was a lot of physical activity combined with the SAPR theme, and I thought it was informative and a lot of fun.”
McFarling said the aspects of the race tied into the physical and social pillars of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness because of the physical challenges the teams had to overcome and that they were able to communicate with each other to complete the objectives.
“SAPR is part of the whole Airmen concept,” McFarling said. “If the Airmen has any hardships or troubles with sexual assault, it can make doing their job much harder. Our job is to heal those who hwhave been a victim or have been impacted at all.”
The SAPR team is working to try and spread awareness by keeping the community engaged and educated on options for reporting sexual assault wherever it may be found.
“I would like to see greater awareness of reporting options,” McFarling said. “I would also like to see greater awareness about how to intervene if someone sees a situation they think is inappropriate. We want people to think about preventing sexual assault and to have it in their mind if they need it.”