Society

Veteran Jennifer Stephens Fights Back Against Poster Blaming Military Sexual Assault Victims

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A female armed forces veteran and battalion commander in the Ohio National Guard took a stand after she saw a poster at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that talked about the “duty” that potential sexual assault victims have to prevent being attacked. When Jennifer Stephens saw the poster, titled "Preventing Sexual Assault Is Everyone's Duty!" taped up in the women’s restroom, she decided to do something about it.

Stephens pasted a letter on top of the poster informing victims about resources that they could use, including details about the local civilian hospital and websites with the contact information of military sexual trauma advocates.

“This is part of the reason victims are afraid to report incidents,” Stephens said when talking about the original poster. "If you're a victim and you've done one of the things on that list, you now feel like it's your fault that you were sexually assaulted.”

A Pentagon survey found that roughly 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year but it has been reported that only 3,192 cases of sexual assault were officially documented, The Huffington Post reported.

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Stephens believes the poster was indicative of broader problems that the military has with addressing sexual assaults. In addition to posting her note in the restroom, she also sent a letter to the Wright-Patterson sexual assault response office.

"Please take a moment to think about how you would feel if you had been assaulted and you went to a [Sexual Assault Response Coordinator] or Victims Advocate and one of the first questions they asked you was what you were wearing or if you were alone or if you were drunk," Stephens wrote.

The base’s public affairs office responded with the following statement:

"We have implemented robust training for all Airmen designed to both deter potential offenders as well as give Airmen the awareness and tools they need to step in and stop assaults from taking place.”

Sources: The Huffington Post, Business Insider