We can make a difference

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Justin Edwards
  • 802nd Security Forces Squadron
Recently, a group of concerned Airmen and I had the chance to be involved in planning and recording a video series regarding sexual assault deterrence. I felt this was a great opportunity for our voices to be heard and to be part of a solution for a problem that affects the entire Air Force family. Throughout this project we realized just how big an issue sexual assault is and how often it happens, even though many times it is not reported. The chemistry of the group was amazing. Many great ideas were brought up and we were all able to build off of one another's thoughts and ideas to create the concept for the series.

During the filming of the video, "How Did I Get Here?" there were a few scenes I felt I could relate to. Airmen go to parties all the time where there is drinking and the chances of a sexual assault taking place increases heavily. When we shot the party scene and the perpetrator character took the victim character into the room, I could almost see the gears turning in the heads of the extras on the set, thought to myself that this is exactly how a sexual assault may happen. There are always people around that process what's going on, but may just stand by and do nothing. All it takes is one person to speak up and stop something terrible from happening that could affect someone's life forever.

While we were at the confinement facility, I also thought a lot about the consequences of one's actions. Many people fail to think of the consequences when putting themselves in situations that could easily land them in trouble. As the shackles were being placed on the actor and as I looked around at the inmates, I realized how one mistake could change your life for the worst. At this point I began to see how important this project was. This video could save someone from becoming an offender or a victim. It could also give someone the courage to speak out against sexual assault and stop a situation from escalating.

Being a part of this project makes me feel like I can actually make a difference. Until now, I haven't felt able to make a difference in the Air Force. It seemed to me that oftentimes an Airman's opinions and ideas get overlooked. This project shed a new light on my perception of the power of an Airman's voice. We, as a group of Airmen, thought this project out and played a major role in seeing it through. We made it happen. Airmen can make a change.

It also taught me a great deal. Though familiar with the subject of sexual assault, I wasn't fully aware of how big of an issue it is, certainly not how often it happens, and how it affects so many people even long after it takes place. The project intrigued me to do a bit of research on the subject. I read in a Pentagon health survey from 2011 that "one out of five military women say they were victims of unwanted sexual contact by another service member since joining the military." I believe that making a few people aware is the first step to making many aware and eventually stopping this terrible act. I encourage Airmen to influence other Airmen to help eliminate sexual assault by taking ownership and responsibility for solutions within their peer groups.

My hope is that after seeing the consequences of sexual assault as portrayed in the video, Airmen will think twice before putting themselves in a similar situation. I also hope that if the occasion arises, Airman will be more inclined to help another Airman in need or stop another Airman from committing a terrible act. I trust that my fellow Airmen will be good wingmen and take what they have learned from our video to deter a sexual assault.

Click here to see the video, "How Did I Get Here?"