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Presentation to raise awareness of male sexual assault, abuse

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo --

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and a national nonprofit organization is coming to Peterson Air Force Base to help alleviate the stigma surrounding the nation’s most underreported crime.

Matthew Ennis, president and CEO of 1in6, and vice chair Anthony Edwards – best known as Goose in the 1986 film “Top Gun” – will present “Normalizing the Conversation for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse or Assault,” at 1 p.m. April 18, 2019, in the Peterson AFB auditorium in Building 1440.

The presentation is rooted in strong scientific evidence that shows one of every six men nationwide has been sexually abused before the age of 18, said Lorinda Pirrie, 21st Space Wing sexual assault response coordinator. Ennis and Edwards will point audience members to resources available for survivors, and Edwards will share his own story of surviving sexual abuse.

“When you look at the military population, of course there are far more males than females,” Pirrie said. “If you were to use that statistic anywhere in any organization, you would know that there is likely many victims or survivors in that particular unit.”

In December 2016, the Department of Defense issued the DoD Plan to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Assault of Military Men.

The 1in6 program falls in step with the plan’s first two objectives, Pirrie said – extending outreach to military men and improving service members’ understanding of how men experience the crime.

“There is a lot of myths out there that only women are assaulted, and only men are perpetrators,” Pirrie said. “All of those are false.”

Those myths often discourage men from reporting sexual abuse or assault, particularly in the military, Pirrie said.

“There’s this expectation of people in uniform that you are strong, powerful, in control,” she said. “So the myths are if you were sexually abused, you must be weak or homosexual or asking for it.”

The event is open to anyone regardless of gender. Volunteer victim advocates also will be on hand after the program for anyone who may need them, she said.

“I think we have a unique opportunity this year to bring general awareness to not only people who are working in this field, but also leadership, and just the general populace,” said Sherri Giulio, sexual assault prevention and response victim advocate. “Often times, we think the only people who get sexually assaulted are females, but there could be male sexual assault survivors sitting right beside them.”

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