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Buckley SARC changes lives, perceptions

Peggy Moore-Mccoy, 460th Space Wing sexual assault response coordinator, speaks with Christine Saona, 460th SW victim advocate on 16 Jan., 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Moore-Mccoy has worked as a SARC since 2005, where she works to change stereotypes, increase awareness and work with victims of sexual assault. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Phillip Houk/Released)

Peggy Moore-Mccoy, 460th Space Wing sexual assault response coordinator, speaks with Christine Saona, 460th SW victim advocate on 16 Jan., 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Moore-Mccoy has worked as a SARC since 2005, where she works to change stereotypes, increase awareness and work with victims of sexual assault. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Phillip Houk/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "We are here for literally everybody on Buckley," said Peggy Moore-Mccoy, 460th Space Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "We are here for military, spouses and dependents, retired, veterans, Department of Defense civilians and contractors. If you are affiliated with Buckley or the military at all, we're here for you."

Due to the experiences she's had, Moore-Mccoy has a unique view on survivors and why many of them join the military. She wasn't dealt the best hand early in life, however, her drive and determination has allowed her to use her early experiences to help others.

"My early childhood was filled with a lot of domestic violence," she said. "I had one of those childhoods where I was raised in the inner city, saw a lot of gang violence and had to avoid a lot of gang violence. My three brothers ended up in jail and two of them died in jail from violence, drugs and alcoholism."

To change her path in life like many before her, Moore-Mccoy used the U.S. Air Force.

"Basically I came into the military to get away from violence," she said. "I was in the military for eight years, doing cryptologic maintenance. There were only 10 women who originally entered the career field. I loved being in the military and it was definitely a calling."

Moore-Mccoy served for several years, separating due to family reasons. After separating, she made a shocking discovery that opened her eyes to the reality of sexual assault.

"My oldest daughter was actually a victim of sexual assault," she said. "She cannot tell us who the perpetrator was, we just know something happened. It haunts me that we were unable to help her at that time."

After she separated, Moore-Mccoy continued to using the skills the Air Force taught her, allowing her to pursue her real passion.

"As my family got older, I decided to go back to school and get my degrees," she said. "While I was getting my degree I was working as a teacher and educational counselor."

After receiving degrees in communications studies and counseling, Moore-Mccoy continued to work as an educational councilor until presented with a new opportunity in 2005.

"When I got the information about this particular program, it hit me at home," she said. "There are boys, there are girls, who are hurt by this crime and offenders who get under the radar simply because we don't suspect them as offenders."

A friend of Moore-Mccoy asked if she had heard about a new AF job. She said they were looking for people who have counseling degrees to be what they call a SARC. "That is so cool and exactly what I want to do," she said.

"It was one of those blessings where God said, 'This is exactly where you need to be,' and it was absolutely fantastic," she said.

Because of the empathy she has for sexual assault victims, Moore-Mccoy has a unique understanding of what the military means to them.

"They survive a trauma, they survive being a victim of some type of interpersonal violence in their childhood," she said. "Believe it or not a lot of survivors actually come into the military to gain a sense of power, control and family. The military becomes powerful to them because they gain a family tie, and gain a sense of power, from being a person in the military"

A benefit of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is its ability to work with all parts of the military, not only small portions. This effort included the many events held by the SAPR program during the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month activities held through the month of April.

"The month raises awareness of the crime," she said, "but also raises awareness of the resources available, prevention methods and education."

The events held by the SAPR program included a 5k run, a day of bowling, a presentation given by sexual assault survivors and many booths set up throughout the month to raise awareness, and change one major misconception still seen on Buckley.

"Lots of civilians think they cannot come talk to us, that we are not here for them, and that is not true", said Moore-Mccoy.

Beyond being available for the entire base, the SARC has begun working with outside agencies to increase awareness and cause change on a larger scale.

"We are cutting edge, we are the ones who are actually changing society," she said. "Colleges are now where the military was a few years ago under the media spotlight. In not knowing exactly what to do, they are actually turning to the DOD to see what they have done. Even in this area there are three major colleges who are mimicking the bystander intervention training the Air Force did."

Part of this attitude towards sexual assault has been created through the Air Force placing sexual assault as a high priority. Because of this Moore-Mccoy and victim advocates throughout the year host events, teach and show how important sexual assault prevention is.

"People can come and talk to us without opening a case," she said. "They can get information, they can tell us their story, the can get options for reporting, they can get care and services, and wait until they are comfortable with opening a case and do it."

Due to the efforts of the SAPR program, Moore-Mccoy has noticed a shift in the types of reports being made.

"Recently many of the cases are now coming to us on the lower end of the spectrum of harm," said Moore-Mccoy. "That means that people are now coming to us reporting instances of sexual assault that involve touch, rather than waiting until it involves rape."

When approaching Moore-Mccoy with a question, there is one important thing to remember.

"The most important thing to remember is that our conversation is confidential," she said. "They don't have to worry about me sharing it, they don't have to worry about me notifying command or anything like that. My goal is to put them at ease so they can talk about whatever is going on."

For more information concerning sexual assault or the military SAPR program contact the SARC at 720-847-7272/9858 or visit the SAPR website here.
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