Tech. Sgt. Letesha Newsom had spent the evening at a 21-and-over club with coworkers the night one of them forced himself on her.
She was just 20 at the time, she recalls in a video posted to the new Sexual Assault Prevention at Response blog. When Newsom told her supervisor what happened, the woman pointed out how the young airman shouldn’t have been at the club in the first place.
“She said, ‘Don’t come to me telling on somebody when your hands are dirty. Clean your own backyard before you want to tell on somebody,'” Newsom recalls in the video.
The response shocked her.
“The hardest part of all was how my unit handled it,” she says.
“This just wasn’t what I expected the military to be about. I thought I would have an organization that would take care of me.”
The experience inspired Newsom to become a victim advocate. Newsom said she wasn’t aware of the resources available to her at the time of the assault.
While the Air Force is getting better at handling reports, she says in the video, “people still don’t realize how often it happens or don’t believe it happens.”
The SAPR blog, called Every Airman Counts, poses regular questions to airmen and is the first major initiative out of a newly revamped sexual assault prevention and response office at the Pentagon.