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You can help prevent sexual assault

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The month of April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. This means that more than 82,000 people have been sexually assaulted so far this year.

Those who serve as part of the Air Force family should be familiar with the terms rape and sexual assault along with what constitutes these offenses and their devastating effects. One topic that is not discussed too frequently however is the use of sexual coercive behavior.

Simply put, sexually coercive behavior is behavior an individual engages in, in an attempt to convince another to have sex with or perform sexual acts with him or her when that person may not initially wish to do so. It is something that we all should be looking out for. Maybe someone is being overly aggressive with a shy wingman or is "feeding" a friend drinks. Step in and say something. While these actions alone are not criminal they have the potential to lead to very serious crimes. In fact, depending how someone perceives the sexually coercive behavior, it may result in criminal charges. Although this type of behavior is discussed less frequently than sexual assault, the use of sexually coercive behavior is more widespread than one may think.

According to researchers, approximately 70 percent of college students report they have been subject to sexually coercive behavior and 33 percent of the surveyed population reported to having used sexually coercive behaviors to convince their partners to engage in sexual acts with them. Of the group who reported being subject to such behavior, about 70 percent stated they knew the other party involved (a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend or an acquaintance). The tactics individuals reported using most often were alcohol and drugs, emotional manipulation and lying. They also claimed their main reason for engaging in sexual coercive behavior was their sexual arousal. These first-hand reports indicate that this type of behavior is not about power, but about sex.

Researchers have also identified that individuals who are most likely to employ these tactics are those who lack confidence in his or her ability to attract and maintain a relationship or those who have control issues.

Anyone seeking additional information regarding sexual assault please contact Jeanine Arnold, Peterson Air Force Base sexual assault prevention and response coordinator, at 556-6972.

(Some information in this story from

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui