Grissom observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Courtney Dotson-Essett
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Grissom’s spotlight is on driving awareness and prevention into daily operations.

The Department of Defense’s theme is “Protecting our people protects our mission.” It’s a theme Air Force leaders hope will support a culture that promotes dignity and respect and supports survivors.

To highlight the importance of survivor support, the 434th Air Refueling Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator’s office has brought the “What Were You Wearing” survivor art illustration to Grissom.

It’s an exhibit displaying re-created outfits from the shared stories of survivors of sexual violence.

The goal of the exhibit is to challenge victim blaming based on the myth that clothing causes sexual violence. It challenges the viewer to see themselves reflected in the outfits and stories, and shift towards survivor empathy and away from blame.

“It was an opportunity to bring a project to our community that has been a part of other communities a creative means to connect to the issue of sexual violence,” said Amy Little, 434th Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

“For survivors who may experience the display, our hope is that they feel heard, validated, believed and know it was not their fault,” she added.

The exhibit first debuted at the University of Arkansas in 2014, created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert. Since then, exhibits have been seen in over 50 countries and five continents.

It’s on display in buildings 431 and 596 at Grissom.

Little said the exhibit is also intended to move individuals to more inclusive and active roles as change agents.

“By adhering to Air Force core values, we are catalysts for attitude and behavior changes that create a culture free of sexual violence,” she said.

Little said there are steps Airmen can take to live out promoting dignity, respect and survivor empathy daily.

They include: practicing empathy and emotional intelligence, uplifting survivors by sharing on social media, and practicing consent everyday by respecting boundaries and the privacy of others.

“We all have the opportunity to make a difference every day-not just-April- by promoting dignity, respect, healthy relationships and collectively changing the world one day at a time,” said Little.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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