Victim advocates explain their role in SAPR

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sabrina Fuller
  • 4th Fighter Wing

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. — When an Airman experiences sexual assault or harassment, representatives of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Victim Advocate program are ready to help those in need.

Victim advocates are military members certified by the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program, who are selected by the installation's sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) to provide essential support, liaison services and care to those who have experienced sexual misconduct.

The SAPR program at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, provides support for victims of sexual assault and harassment incidents and assists them with making an official unrestricted or restricted report.

“Unrestricted reporting is when an investigation is triggered,” said Master Sgt. Ayoka Francis, 4th Fighter Wing SAPR victim advocate. “Restricted is when an investigation is not being done. However, victims still have resources such as the ability to speak to a victim advocate and the ability to conduct a forensic exam.”

Victim advocates are not considered mandatory reporters, which means a person can report an incident to them and have the choice to open an investigation or not.

Many advocates have personal stories that contribute to their passion in assisting their wingmen.

In 2007, Tech. Sgt. Kathryn Brown, 4th FW SAPR victim advocate, interrupted an encounter between a lower-enlisted Airman and an NCO. When she noticed the young Airman was in trouble.

After intervening, she escorted the Airman away from the situation, ensuring she was safe.

“I wanted to stand up and put a stop to improper actions and be a voice that somebody might not have had at that moment,” said Brown. “I was that voice for someone who didn't know how to say no because she was in a situation with someone of a higher rank.”

Brown exhibited bystander intervention during the situation. This type of intervention means taking action in order to help put a stop to sexual abuse before it escalates.

“Don’t be afraid to stand up,” said Brown. “For me, I always thought, how would I feel if I was in that situation and no one stepped in to help me?”

Victims of sexual assault and harassment may face their traumas, fears and perpetrators, but victim advocates ensure they are never alone. These representatives provide support for military members, Air Force civilian personnel and dependents who are 18 and older.

“A question we always get is why they [victims] didn't report it, but the truth is, you really never know what you're going to do until you're actually going through it,” said Francis. “Every survivor's story is not the same.”

Like most SAPR victim advocates, Francis and Brown expressed their passion to help people.

“I have seen how sexual abuse impacts victims and their loved ones,” said Francis. “This is what made me want to become a victim advocate. I want to change the culture and at the same time provide people with the help they need.”

In fiscal year 2020, 7,816 reports of sexual assault were made across the DOD, according to

If you or someone you know wants to file a restricted or unrestricted report, please reach out to the 4th FW SAPR office at (919)-722-0154.