Sexual assault can happen to men, too, and the Department of Defense (DOD) wants men to know that they will be supported if they come forward.
Only about 10 percent of male victims report sexual abuse, according to a survey conducted by the DOD. What keeps them silent is fear they won’t be believed or will be blamed if they report an incident. The same study also found that men who experience sexual assault do not actually see it as “sexual” as much as a cultural norm.
But the DOD’s Air Force and Sexual Assault Prevention Response teams are committed to making male victims in the military more comfortable with reporting sexual assault, and educating them on the differences between acts like hazing, which are acts designed to humiliate or degrade an individual, and sexual assault, which is a crime.
Lydia Leasher, 52nd Fighter Wing SAPR Victim’s Advocate, attended a Sexual Assault Prevention Response (SAPR) conference and felt compelled to implement a “You Are Not Alone” campaign at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. The campaign is geared to reach male victims of sexual assault in a discreet and less intimidating way.
“During an annual SAPR training conference there was a briefer speaking about male victimization and the brief was so inspiring,” Leasher said. “There’s a lack of exposure on male victimization. This type of information is something the SAPR community needs. I was able to use her information and tweak it in a way that was more fitting to the Spangdahlem community.”
The “You Are Not Alone” campaign is promoted through radio ads as well as marketing tables and posters throughout the base. The SAPR team provides victims a variety of support options including victim’s advocates, special victim’s counsel, and chaplains.
“A study conducted by a stateside male victim crisis center showed that if male victims are able to see something like a flyer or poster that says they’re not in it alone,” Leasher said, “they’re 80 percent more likely to report.”
Source: U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa