BUCKLEY SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Members came together for a sexual assault awareness forum April 26, 2023, at Buckley Space Force Base, Colo. This forum provided members an open space to come together in a comfortable environment to participate in open dialogue and support survivors who shared their stories.
“Too many times we don’t have a forum where someone can come forward and say ‘I was hurt and this is what happened,’” said Ms. Peggy Moore-McCoy, sexual assault and response coordinator.
Open forums to discuss experiences with sexual violence are vital to breaking the false narratives surrounding sexual violence and the misconception that victims are responsible for the crime committed against them. Far too often survivors are subjected to victim-blaming inquiries such as:
“Why didn’t you fight it?”
“What were you wearing?”
“Why didn’t you leave?”
“Why didn’t you just say no?”
Regardless of what the answer may be to any of these questions, it does not warrant permission nor allow a perpetrator to take advantage of the situation. Each time the narrative is turned to the victim to focus on what they could have done to avoid these plights, the ideology that the perpetrator is not at fault is reinforced.
“The goal is to shift a culture that propagates the idea that vulnerability is synonymous with permission, to remind ourselves that bodily autonomy is a basic human right and that without a doubt every human being has a right to walk through this life with their full humanity intact – that is why we are here,” said Maj. Bethany Casper, mental health flight commander.
One way that society can work together, worldwide, to shift the narrative is through honoring Denim Day annually on the last Wednesday of April.
What is Denim Day and why do we recognize it during Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Denim Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to wear denim with the intent of supporting survivors while educating themselves and others about the plights that are faced around all forms of sexual violence.
Denim Day began in 1992 when an 18 year-old girl was raped during her first driving lesson, by her 45 year-old driving instructor. This campaign was kicked off when the rape conviction was overruled because the justices determined that since her jeans were so tight, the perpetrator could not have removed them without her assistance, therefore indicating that she must have consented. Following this ruling, the women of the Italian Parliament protested on the steps of the Supreme Court, while wearing jeans in solidarity.
Sexual assault is complex and comes in forms ranging from cat-calling to abusive sexual contact. With this being a multifaceted danger, it is imperative that service members are able to recognize what it looks like no matter what form they or their peers may encounter. Being able to correctly identify what ourselves or others may face increases chances of prevention and reporting.
With exposure to these open and honest conversations, members can educate themselves about various forms of assault, what it looks like and how to appropriately support others who may have faced this form of violence.
If you or someone you know needs an advocate or resources please reach out to the Buckley 24/7 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response help line at 720-847-7272 or the National Sexual Assualt hotline at 1-800-656-4673.