During a talk on April 28, Anne Munch, a former attorney and prosecutor who now devotes her time to sexual assault prevention, received a plaque for her work preventing sexual assault within the military, and praised Hill Air Force Base for its continued efforts to fight sexual assault.
"The Air Force is the leading edge of cultural change, you are light-years ahead," said Munch. "You have done more in five years than civilians have done in 50."
Munch, who grew up in an Air Force family, is now implementing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs for the Air Force, Navy and Army. She has also recently co-developed a bystander intervention program for the Air Force that has most recently been implemented on the base.
According to Munch 450,000 Air Force members have already completed the bystander education and she praised leadership for taking a proactive stance in trying to end sexual assault.
The result of a survey about sexual assault within the Air Force was released last month. According to the survey 18.9 percent of women and 2.1 percent of men have experienced sexual assault while in the Air force. A reported 13.5 percent of women and 3.5 percent of men said that within the last 12 months they had experienced sexual assault.
"Less than 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men will report the abuse," Munch said. "They don't report it because they didn't think it was serious enough or didn't want their fellow Airmen to know."
During the talk Munch discussed how honored she feels to meet survivors and stressed that although she herself has never been the victim of any type of abuse, that she doesn't judge or second guess how they got to where they are now.
"I was motivated because of an internship with a Family Crisis Center for abused children," Munch said. "I will never forget the day they handed me a report on a child I'd played with. I read it and went cold; I felt something switch in my soul and knew I would dedicate my life to stop it."
She also recounted what she calls a success story from Peterson Air Force Base:
"A young Air Force man had gone through the men's bystander course and one day was leaving a club at around 2 a.m. As he was walking down the street he saw a woman surrounded by a group of men looking concerned and slightly intoxicated. The men were trying to convince the woman to let them drive her home. She said no continuously but the men would not stop harassing her. That is when that young man made it his mission to protect her. He approached her saying, 'Don't go with them; come with me if you want to live.' She accepted the offer and started walking down the street. The men tried to stop him saying it was their friend. The young man said, 'OK, if she is your friend, what is her name?' The men guessed and were wrong. So the young man walked her down the street and waited with her until a taxi arrived."
Munch ended her talk by acknowledging everyone who has been working at Hill to help educate and stop abuse.
"This talk is called 'Hurts One Affects All' because sexual assault affects an entire unit. We need to not damage the trust we have in each other. We need to quit blaming the victim," said Munch. "All of us need to step in and prevent sexual assault."
For more information about Anne Munch's educational efforts visit her website at annemunch.org.
To reach the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Office at Hill Air Force Base, call (801) 777-1985 or (801) 777-1964.