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Airmen 'Take Back the Night'

Team McChord supports SAPR 5K

Team McChord leaders, sexual assault response coordinators and participants walk around a track during the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’s Take Back the Night 5K. Photo credit: Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh

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Sexual assault is something that can affect anyone, either directly or through a loved one. Many victims of sexual assault can feel ashamed and try to hide what happened instead of speaking out.

In an effort to raise awareness about sexual assault, Team McChord airmen strapped on their running shoes and participated in the 62nd Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office's Take Back the Night 5K walk/run last week.

Leaders from the 62nd AW and 627th Air Base Group gave opening remarks and joined other participants on the track to support sexual assault prevention.

"We have so many cases that come in from both the Army and Air Force side and (the 5K) is a way to empower people -- it's okay to not feel victimized," said Airman 1st Class Tamara Couch, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) councilmember and 627th Communication Squadron vulnerability management technician. "It's to raise awareness that this is happening on our base and out in the civilian world, and we want to take back the night. We want to break the silence."

April was Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and 62nd AW sexual assault response coordinators (SARC) want to impress upon people that it only takes one person to bring about change in society.

"One person can make a drastic change around a bigger setting," said Tech. Sgt. Rayna Anderson, 62nd AW SARC intern and volunteer victim advocate. "If I tell you and you tell someone else, it can continue from there. We want to widely disseminate the information to as many people as we can reach."

The SAPR office also held a bowling event to raise awareness during SAAPM. The event themselves weren't the main goal for SAPR, it was about bringing people together and opening a dialogue.

"I hope people take away that it's okay to talk about it," Couch said. "It can be hard, it's a very touchy subject, but it's okay to want closure. There's probably people on base who have been sexually assaulted that we don't know about at the center because they are afraid to speak out."

Another purpose of the awareness events is to show there are people available who can help those who have been victims of sexual assault.

"It shows there are people like us who work in the SAPR center who care," Couch said. "Our victim advocates (VA) are there to listen and help guide a person to getting the closure they need."

Speaking to a SARC or VA is confidential and people are encouraged to take advantage of their expertise to help them close a difficult chapter in their or a loved one's life.

Anyone who would like to speak with a SARC or VA or is interested in becoming one can visit the SAPR office in Bldg. 100 (The Castle), Room 3024 or call DSN 253.982.0473 or commercial 253.982.0473. A 24-hour hotline is also available at DSN 253.982.7272 or commercial 253.982.7272.

Every airmen can play a part to take back the night, break the silence and end sexual assault at JBLM and throughout the world.

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