By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t do something you should have and felt the regret, guilt and hope for a second chance afterward? Maybe you’ve been in a setting where you thought about cutting your friend off from those last few drinks. Maybe you could have stepped in when they were crossing the line of respect, but instead you did nothing.
Being an active bystander takes courage and confidence. It means stepping in and taking care of your wingman, ensuring no one is making a potential life changing-mistake.
Active bystanders take the initiative to help someone who may be targeted for sexual assault. A good wingman also takes the first step to help friends who aren’t thinking clearly from becoming perpetrators of crime.
Intervention doesn’t mean that you only stop a mistake in progress but work to be a preventative wingman.
Airmen should not be comfortable with sexual harrassment, inappropriate behavior, or someone causing harm to someone else or him or her self; but should be comfortable with intervening to stand up for their wingman. All Airmen have the responsibility to create a comfortable, respectful environment and leaders have the influence to promote it.
Promoting a healthy work environment enhances the opportunity for Airmen to feel empowered to integrate values, attitudes and behaviors related to sexual assault prevention.
When intervening in any situation whether it is sexual assault or drinking and driving, assess whether the situation requires calling authorities.
“There is naturally some risk in any type of intervention, but life is full of risk,” said Capt. Jessica Pavoni, interim Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “If you’re not comfortable personally intervening, find someone who is, or bring a wingman with you. Calling for help from security forces, the Command Post, etc. is always an option as well.”
If you are going out to an unfamiliar bar or even to a place you have been to many times before, be mindful of your surroundings and use your situational awareness.
“There may come a time when you are in a situation that is confusing, awkward, uncomfortable, or you don’t know how to react,” said Pavoni. “These are the times we hope for a bystander. Do not be afraid to intervene in a situation where you recognize that someone may need your help.”