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SANTA RITA, Guam - More than 300 Sailors and soldiers assigned to commands on Guam attended a unique training session on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) at The Big Screen theater on U.S. Naval Base Guam April 22.
Department of the Navy's SAPR office sponsored the "No Zebras, No Excuses" live performance, which featured skits designed to raise awareness and show service members how they can help prevent sexual assault.
The reenactments focused on and addressed the bystander mentality when sexual assault situations arise. The training stressed that aggression can no longer be ignored and empowered service members to take a stand and help keep others safe.
"You have the power in these situations to do something," said Katie Kleve, educator and cast member. "So rather than stand by and let it happen, you can intervene and stop it. Standing back is the easy thing to do, it's easy to say that you don't (know) what to do."
Christie Martin, an educator and cast member of No Zebras, and the company behind the performance, said the title "No Zebras, No Excuses" comes from the behavior exhibited by herds of zebras in the wild when they are preyed upon by lions.
When attacked, Martin said, zebras scatter until the predator takes down one that couldn't get away. After the attack, the zebras go about their business relieved it wasn't them.
Martin said the message is simple, "If we stand together, we can stop sexual assault. Don't be a zebra." U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Hemphill, of the 84th Engineer Battalion said the training was intense.
"This is the first time I have experienced training this good overall," he said. "I think the Army should go to more trainings like this, because in the Army we basically do a class where our supervisors teach instead of skits from outside sources where people are (trained to engage the audience.)"
Lt. Army Carolyn Johnson also from the 84th Battalion said she enjoyed the presentation and added that there should be more held to raise awareness for service members.
"I thought the training was very relatable to the type of training programs we have now in modern society," said Johnson. "I think we need that more realistic training like this because these situations are very real and they happen (in) units like ours."
Kleve said the group has traveled throughout military bases in the mainland and overseas for two years and Guam has been its furthest travel so far.
The "No Zebras, No Excuses" program is being presented at major military stations worldwide to help service members learn to protect one another.
"Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
"Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SexualAssault and #SAAPM."