HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office here held a breakfast April 4 at the Hill Aerospace Museum for base personnel and community members. The breakfast was one of several Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month activities planned for April.
The Department of Defense’s theme for this year is “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.” The theme was fitting with the breakfast’s purposes: address resources for potential victims and educate attendees on how to build a supportive culture among military and civilian ranks.
Timothy Jones, a U.S. Navy veteran, was the event’s guest speaker. In 1999, he was sexually assaulted while serving in the Navy.
After his sexual assault, Jones did not immediately file a report.
“I decided I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “I didn’t want to risk my career.”
After a supervisor told him that failing to report the incident could lead to others being assaulted, Jones changed his mind.
“I didn’t want that to happen to anybody else,” he said, “so I took her (supervisor’s) advice and I reported the situation.”
Things were different in 1999 and Jones’s reporting of the incident led to many obstacles including him being ostracized by fellow Sailors and Marines.
“No one really wanted to associate themselves with me because associating with me, in their eyes at the time, was associating with someone who was a homosexual, not someone who reported a sexual assault,” said Jones.
Jones began receiving counseling following his assault but there were no SARC (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator) or SAPR programs then. His experience involved a counselor who was not prepared to deal with sexual assault.
“This [counseling] went on for a year so you can imagine that we didn’t get a lot of work done in those sessions,” said Jones.
After his discharge from the military, Jones struggled for years but eventually sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Through therapy and support, he began to heal.
Later, he found that he could benefit others and make them aware of the nature of sexual assault by speaking about his experiences.
“It is my passion and focus that other victims become survivors,” he said.
The Defense Department has made strides in improving prevention, response and outreach efforts.
“Our knowledge about male sexual assault in both the military and civilian community is lacking due to low reporting,” said Edie Davis, Hill Air Force Base lead SARC. “Through prevention and outreach events like this we take steps to ensure everyone who experiences sexual assault receives the care and support they need.”
The event was attended by nearly 200 guests.
Among other April events, the SAPR office will host an open house April 26 in building 460 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Giveaways and light refreshments will be provided.