Sexual Assault Awareness Month: AFOSI's Perspective

  • Published
  • By Special Agent Andrea O'Connor
  • Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 111 commander
Sexual assault is a problem affecting our entire society.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations' role in combating sexual assault includes conducting thorough investigations, seeking the truth and providing commanders and the Staff Judge Advocate with information to help make decisions and take appropriate legal action.

Unlike Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Chaplains, which offer confidentiality and restricted reporting to individuals who have experienced a sexual assault, AFOSI is a law enforcement agency and a mandatory reporter. This means AFOSI must investigate any allegation of sexual assault that comes to our attention.

While the idea of speaking with someone about sexual assault can be daunting, AFOSI takes pride in treating individuals who report this crime with compassion and respect. We work closely with the SARC, the Chaplain, the Staff Judge Advocate and other agencies to ensure victims get the help they need.

While there are many reasons why victims wish to cope with sexual assault trauma without involving others, please consider the following: often times the path to recovery comes from seeking justice and ensuring an offender is no longer able to inflict pain upon others. Many times AFOSI receives information about sexual assaults where the offender had past victims who did not report the crime. Sometimes, the offender is able to offend again, putting others at risk. Providing a statement to AFOSI ensures there's a lasting record, which cannot be diminished by passage of time. For many individuals, being part of the investigative process and seeking justice is one powerful step toward recovery.

On a practical, positive note, advances in forensic science and technology allow us to collect evidence in increasingly sophisticated manners. For those who know or suspect they've been sexually assaulted, do not destroy, wash, or discard items of clothing or bedding. Working with AFOSI or the SARC to accomplish a sexual assault examination kit is one of the single most useful items available to successfully document, investigate and prosecute crimes.

For more information about AFOSI's investigative process or organization in general, call (919) 722-1218 or visit AFOSI Detachment 216, at building 5006 on Guardian Road, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., which is responsible for all of Eastern North Carolina, including Seymour Johnson AFB and Pope Army Airfield.

*Editor's Note: This commentary was edited and localized to include Seymour Johnson Air Force Base contact information.