Air Force Veteran Responds to Victim-Blaming Poster

A female veteran reacted to a Air Force base victim blaming sexual assault awareness poster that was posted in the women’s restroom by posting a rival flier with actual resources for survivors.

Jennifer Stephens, a federal employee and a veteran in the Ohio Air Force, was outraged over a poster about sexual assault by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base sexual assault coordinator she found in a women’s restroom. The poster featured victim blaming slogans such as Pay attention to your surroundings. Be prepared to get yourself home. Socialize with people who share your values. After Stephens saw this poster, she reflected to reporters I think this is part of the reason victims are afraid to report incidents. If you are a victim and you have done one of the things on that list, you now feel like it is your fault that you were sexually assaulted.

Stephens responded by creating a poster detailing what information should victims of sexual assault know. She wrote an email to the office of sexual assault in the base, urging them to promote culture change and support victims as opposed to tearing victims down by plastering these types of posters all over the base. Stephen concluded with please take a moment to think about how you would feel if you had been assaulted and you went to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator of Victims Advocate and one of the first questions they asked you was what you were wearing, or if you were alone or if you were drunk. Stephen who is a 10-year veteran of armed forces and a commander in the Ohio National Guard told the reporters that it can create a problem of putting the responsibility on sexually assaulted victims.

Even though sexual assault is under-reported crime in the military, the estimation on sexual assault of last year is 26,000 . According to the Service Women’s Action Network , 37% of female veterans said that they were raped and 14% said they were gang-raped. Outraged lawmakers have introduced different pieces of legislation to combat the epidemic. Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y) has been leading the push by calling for sexual assault cases to be taken out of the chain of command.


Sources: Huffington Post 8/5/2013; ThinkProgress 8/5/2013; Business Insider 8/2/2013; Feminist Newswire 7/16/2013, 5/22/2013

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