TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – “Understanding our individual responsibility and the impact it can have on communities is necessary for culture change. Done correctly, this will significantly decrease the amount of sexual violence occurring in our communities.”
The quote is from Eric Barreras, founder and chief executive officer of Difference Makers LLC, 10 Strong, who will be a guest speaker April 18 at Travis Air Force Base.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office is sponsoring the program as part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month activities. The presentation will be in the 9th Air Refueling Squadron auditorium from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“We want to educate people on how to prevent sexual assaults,” said Tiffanie Stevenson, 60th Air Mobility Wing SAPR victim advocate. “Those attending the interactive session with Eric will gain skills to help them speak up against negative narratives, regardless of their rank or position in their units.”
DM-10 Strong speakers combine lecture, exercises, audience participation and scenario-based discussions during the presentation.
“We hope these messages reach supervisors and commanders at all levels,” said Capt. Aundrea Chapman, 60th AMW deputy SARC. “We want to open the door to talk about this and have people intervene when they see or hear something inappropriate so the behavior does not escalate. We have to foster that kind of environment if we want to see a decrease in sexual assault reports.”
The culture in the military will change when Airmen speak up about inappropriate behaviors, added Chapman.
“Thanks to social media, we’re starting to see this,” she said.
As a former investigator with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Barreras conducted a number of sexual assault investigations stateside and while deployed. After retiring from the military in 2013, he served as subject matter expert on sexual assaults, domestic violence and child abuse for the Monterey County Public Defender’s Office in Salinas, California.
In 2015, Barreras accepted a job as the Air Force SAPR specialist at the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, California. Berraras later became the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the U.S. Coast Guard and in 2018, he was named the Department of Defense’s SARC of the Year for Coast Guard.
Barreras is also a sexual assault survivor.
“Eric and his team not only raise awareness of sexual assaults and other types of violence, they show survivors that recovery and resilience are possible,” said Stevenson.
Seating for the program is limited so registration is required. To register, contact the SAPR office at 707-424-1105 or email 60AMW.CVK@us.af.mil.
The SAPR office also is encouraging off-duty military members and civilians to participate in National Denim Day April 24. Denim Day is an international campaign for sexual violence prevention and education.
The campaign began after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rapist’s conviction in 1998 because the victim had been wearing tight jeans when attacked. The court argued that the 45-year-old woman must have helped her attacker remove the jeans, therefore the act was consensual.
Women in the Italian Parliament protested the decision by wearing jeans and carrying signs that read, “Jeans an alibi for rape.”
As a wrap up to the month’s activities, the SAPR office is sponsoring a block party April 26 in the Airman and Family Readiness Center parking lot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free food and refreshments will be available as well as information about support services on base and in the local communities.
“We want to make people aware of the services we provide to active duty members, retirees and their family members over age 18 and civilian employees,” said Stevenson.
People who do not fall into one of these categories can still contact the SAPR office if they need help.
“We won’t turn anyone away,” said Stevenson. “We have several resources in the community where we can refer someone for assistance.”
For more information about the Travis SAPR program, call 707-424-1105.