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Don't become a target for a sexual predator

  • Published
  • By Laura McGowan
  • Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Air Force is aggressively seeking to prevent sexual assault through training programs, and they also want to take away the barriers that prevent victims from reporting the crime.

"Sexual assault turns the victim's world upside down, and the trauma of being assaulted is a shock from which many victims never fully recover," said Brig. Gen. K. C. McClain, commander, Joint Task Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. "And the thought that you're going to have to talk to your commander, supervisor, the investigators-all of these people are going to know-is overwhelming for some people, and they don't want to deal with it."

It has been widely documented and discussed with criminal psychologists that people who inflict the crime of rape usually begin their "careers" early in life. Unfortunately, by the time an individual with this mindset is old enough to enter the Air Force, they may have already transgressed the law and expect to do so again.

The Air Force has a long list of common sense safety practices that can help military members reduce the possibility of becoming victims of sexual assault. The following tips will help:

If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Studies indicate that about half of all U.S. sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol by the offender, the victim or both.
Do not leave your beverage unattended or accept a drink from an open container.
When you date someone, communicate clearly with that person to ensure he or she knows your limits from the beginning. Both verbal and nonverbal (body language) communication can be used to ensure the message is understood.
If you go on a date with someone you do not know very well, tell a close friend what your plans are.
You have the right to say "No" even if you:
Say yes, but change your mind
Have had sex with this partner before
Have been kissing or "making out"
Are wearing "provocative" clothing
Always have extra money to get home. Have a plan for someone you can call if you need help.
If you feel uncomfortable, scared, or pressured, act quickly to end the situation. Say, "Stop it" and leave or call for help.
When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, watch out for each other and leave together.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Do not allow yourself to be isolated with a person you do not know or trust.
Travel with a friend or in a group.
Plan your outings and avoid getting into a bad situation.
Walk only in lighted areas after dark.
Keep the doors to homes, barracks and cars locked.
Know where the phone is located.
Predators look for opportunities to commit their crimes, and the less opportunity they have, the better. Most sex offenders don't look creepy or scary. In fact, some can be very handsome and very charming.

"I was a normal person. I had good friends. I led a normal life, except for this one, small but very potent and destructive segment that I kept very secret and close to myself," said convicted serial killer, Ted Bundy in his final interview with psychologist Dr. James Dobson.

During that interview it stated, "Bundy, a good-looking, intelligent law student, learned to lure women into his car by various forms of deception. He would put a cast on his arm or leg, and then walk across a university campus carrying several books. When he saw an interesting coed standing or walking alone, he'd 'accidentally' drop the books near her.

"The girl would help him gather them and take them to his car. Then he would entice her or push her into the vehicle where she was taken captive. After he molested the girl and the rage of passion had passed, she would be killed, and Bundy would dump her body in a region where it would not be found for months."

Don't become a target for a sexual predator seeking the opportunity to take advantage.

Gen. McClain said, "Commanders are the key to sexual assault prevention and response." However, "Everyone from our most junior member to our most senior member has a role in prevention and response," she said. "It's not a commander's program; it's everyone's responsibility."