Pacific Fleet Sailors stand together in support of the #StepUpStepIn campaign for sexual assault awareness. (U.S. Navy/MC1 David Kolmel)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - As Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) comes to a close April 30, U.S. Pacific Fleet leaders continue to stress the importance of a year-round approach to intervention.

With an emphasis on raising awareness this month throughout the active, reserve and civilian workforce, nearly 600 events were conducted across the Pacific Fleet to include training, hosting guest speakers, assigning additional Regional Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Officers and certifying more Victim Advocates.

"Our goal was to reach our people and that's what we did," said Lt. Cmdr. John Benson, U.S. Pacific Fleet's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Officer (SAPRO). "We asked our Sailors to talk about it at work, at home, church, the mall - and especially when they're out socializing."

Sexual assault is a crime that destroys trust, divides teams and degrades the Navy's operational effectiveness. So in addition to April's SAAM efforts, Pacific Fleet leaders also introduced a communication campaign with a goal to continue a year-long dialogue and to share ideas.

"Our effort to eliminate sexual assault is something our Navy works on 365 days a year and it requires a steady drumbeat of communication," said Capt. Darryn James, U.S. Pacific Fleet chief spokesperson. "So we created the #StepUpStepIn campaign with a goal of empowering individuals to take ownership of this problem by providing an opportunity to continue the conversation."

Beginning with a public service announcement, Pacific Fleet continues to highlight the need for Sailors to act in order to prevent sexual assault.

"All around the fleet, Sailors are stepping up and stepping in to prevent sexual assault," said U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief Marco Ramirez. "Intervention, whether directly or by making circumstances known to others, could help prevent this horrendous crime. Each one of us has a responsibility to keep at it every day until we've cultivated a climate of trust and professionalism that is intolerant of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexism."

The Navy's goal is to eliminate sexual assault by fostering a culture of prevention which includes effective education and training, a 24/7 response capability to ensure victim support, reporting procedures available world-wide, and accountability that enhances the safety and well-being of all. For more information and resources to combat sexual assault visit www.sapr.navy.mil.

Join Pacific Fleet's social media conversation about intervention by using #StepUpStepIn and continue to raise awareness about preventing sexual assault.