Walking for sexual assault awareness

  • Published
  • By Robb Lingley
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month across the U.S. by both military and civilian communities.

At Peterson Air Force Base the third annual Walk-A-Lap will be held throughout April at the Fitness Center track.

“Walk-a-Lap is a way to support survivors of sexual assault,” said Lorinda Pirrie, 21st Space Wing sexual assault response coordinator. “We would like to have Airmen and civilians walk 6,769 laps. One for every reported sexual assault in fiscal year 2017.”

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team is dedicated to providing the best possible service to ensure that each person makes a smooth transition from “victim” to “survivor.”
They also use education and intervention as the primary means of achieving an environment free from sexual assault.

The Fitness Center will have logs and a box available where people can grab a sheet and document how many laps or miles they did. On 26 April, 2019 there will be a final Walk-A-Lap event held at the fitness center, where individuals can finish walking any laps needed to meet the goal of 6,769 laps.

Pirrie and Sherri Giulio, 21st SW sexual assault prevention response victim advocate, started Walk-a-Lap after seeing it was being done at the Pentagon. They thought it was a great idea to bring the community together so they decided to give it a try at Peterson AFB.

“Part of the reason the event runs month-long is the change in weather patterns along the Front Range at this time of year,” said Giulio. “We decided we would be better able to meet our numbers if we held the event month long.”

This year there will be silent witnesses stationed around the track.

“Silent witnesses are synonymous with sexual assault,” said Giulio. “They’re life-sized silhouettes mounted with a story around each one’s neck pertaining to sexual assault so people understand what happened to an individual without using names.”

Silent witnesses are meant as a reminder of how many victims are out there that people don’t know about.

“When you go about your daily life you don’t know if the person next to you could be a victim of sexual assault,” said Pirrie. “Statistics show that one in six men have been sexually assaulted before the age of 18. If you look at the population of the military and how many of them are men it makes it impossible to sit in a room full of men and not wonder how many have been sexually assaulted.”
Walk-a-Lap will run from April 1-26.

If you have been sexually assaulted:
• Go to a safe location away from the attacker.
• Call 911 if you are in an emergency situation or need immediate attention. Even if you doubt you have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk for sexually transmitted infections or you could be pregnant.
• If you suspect you’ve been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected.
• Preserve all evidence of assault. Do not shower, bathe, change clothes, brush your teeth, eat or drink anything. Do not clean up the crime scene.
• Ask the health care provider to conduct a sexual assault forensic exam to preserve forensic evidence.
• Write down, tape or record by any other means all the details you can recall about the assault and your assailant.

Personnel at Peterson AFB are encouraged to report sexual assault by contacting a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at 719-556-7272.