Air Force defends poster criticized as ‘victim-blaming’

The poster, which was hung in a women’s bathroom at an Ohio Air Force base, warns, ‘Preventing sexual assault is everyone’s duty.’

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That’s a debate rippling through Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Late last month, Jennifer Stephens, a battery commander in the Ohio National Guard, brought attention to the poster, saying it contributed to victims’ feeling that they were at fault for being assaulted.

Stephens said such attitudes contribute to the phenomenon of sexual assaults in the military going unreported.

The poster states, in bold text across the top, “Preventing sexual assault is everyone’s duty.”

Col. Cassie Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at the base, is stepping up to defend the poster. She said the poster is part of a four-prong approach to sexual assault response that includes investigating cases, prevention, survivor support, and reinforcing a culture of respect.

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