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Standing against injustice; 375th SAPR provides advocacy for sexual assault victims

375th Sexual Assault Prevention and Response victim advocates pose for a photo at the parade field at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, April 12, 2021. Victim advocates provide crisis intervention and nonclinical support to sexual assault victims. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

375th Sexual Assault Prevention and Response victim advocates pose for a photo at the parade field at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, April 12, 2021. Victim advocates provide crisis intervention and nonclinical support to sexual assault victims. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – The impacts of sexual assault that affect victims and their families can be unjust and emotionally devastating — victim advocates from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office are here to begin the healing process.

 The SAPR office plays a significant part in providing support to sexual assault victims, which helps lead to increased reporting and accountability. An integral piece of these efforts are the victim advocates, who dedicate their time and efforts to the prevention of sexual assault.

“To be a victim advocate is a call for duty,” said Kenitha Woodhouse, 375th Air Mobility Wing SAPR specialist. “You have to have the compassion and the heart, to take on other people's traumas. It’s a level of duty in which you are here to stand for them against injustices.”

As a part of their daily responsibilities, victim advocates provide crisis intervention and nonclinical support. In addition, they provide information and resources to assist victims in making informed decisions about their care. Advocates personalize the care needed depending on the individual’s needs.

Advocates have an internal longing to help those in need, added Woodhouse. Their goal is to help those who have been taken advantage of and empower them.

While every victim advocate is prepared to aid those in need, they must have the mental resilience necessary to help those who need it most. 

“The most difficult thing about serving as a victim advocate is seeing what one human being can do to another,” said Suzanne M. Signore-Hayes, Air Mobility Command Financial Management victim advocate. “You are seeing someone in their most vulnerable state and that can be challenging to take in and compartmentalize.”

Because of the toll that sexual assault can have on individuals and their families, the SAPR office dedicates time to spreading awareness through Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month annually.

“SAAPM allows the Air Force and all of DoD [Department of Defense] to stop and really focus on the issue – to revector and reconnect to the importance of SAPR programs, to renew our commitment to the prevention of sexual assault and to the support of survivors throughout our Air Force and DoD,” said Signore-Hayes. “We owe that to all our men and women who serve in both military and civilian uniforms.”

The Scott AFB SAPR Office and the 24/7 SARC Response Hotline at 618-256-7272 remain open to service members and their families in need.