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Sexual Assault Prevention, not just a month-long mission

13 June 2012

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Dunford and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Kolmel

Adm. Cecil Haney met with his top enlisted leader, Fleet Master Chief John Minyard, and a group of Sailors and civilians from various units from around the region, June 7, to discuss Sexual Assault Awareness.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, met with his top enlisted leader, Fleet Master Chief John Minyard, and a group of Sailors and civilians from various units from around the region June 7 to discuss Sexual Assault Awareness.

The focus was to assess the effectiveness of the recently conducted Sexual Assault Awareness training and find ways to capitalize on momentum gained from the training moving forward.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness month (SAAM), the Chief of Naval Operations directed all Navy commands to focus on awareness and prevention of sexual violence through command-level training on four themes: Hurts One, Affects All, Prevention is Everyone's Duty, and We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault. The purpose of the SAAM training was to establish a Navy-wide baseline level of knowledge on sexual assault. Training also included a segment on bystander intervention, a proactive prevention strategy which encourages active bystanders to take the initiative to provide help to when they observe someone who may be targeted for sexual assault.

"We wanted to know how we did on the training, how do we move the ball forward, and how do we continue to move this issue forward in general," said Minyard. Driving the point home he stated, "We want to do everything we can to ensure that we stamp this out and eliminate sexual assault in our Navy. Just because we conducted an awareness month in April doesn't mean that we put it back on the shelf and not have an open dialogue."

This roundtable meeting of the minds incorporated a discussion on the effectiveness of SAAM training and a vision forward. Understanding the need for innovative ideas in order to reach Sailor was also a topic of discussion. Additional topics included; spreading awareness of combating sexual assault and training ideas to enable Sailors to protect themselves against predators as well as bystander intervention.

The training overall received positive feedback. Many Sailors found the interactive discussions far more engaging and informative than the typical Power Point briefs and were enthused to learn more interactive awareness events are planned for the future.

"The Navy is providing innovative training aids such as live interactive evolutions "Sex Signals", "No Zebras" along with various briefs from subject matter experts," said Chief Personnel Specialist Millie Woodward, U.S. Pacific Fleet Command's SAPR representative."The Navy is also working towards minimizing unreported sexual assaults, raising awareness on updated policies and procedures, and providing advocacy support for all victims. The Navy has also updated NAVADMIN 132-12, the policy which provides expedited transfer upon victim's request."

"(Outside) influence through films and television has desensitized some Sailors to the point where many believe sexual assault is not a serious issue," said Shari Freeman, a counselor from Military and Family Services Center. "Alcohol continues to be a major factor in sexual assault incidents, and leadership can be more influential by reiterating available resources." Discussions like these help Sailors, senior leadership and the Military and Family Service Center establish a forum to help decrease sexual assault among Sailors with the goal to ultimately eliminate it.

The Military and Family Services Center is also fully engaged with the effort to fight sexual assault. "We have a 24/7 response capability through a SAPR Victim Advocate Watchbill, widest dissemination of the SafeHelpline (1 -877-955-5247) for reporting sexual assaults, and a continuing partnership between Tripler Army Medical Center and the civilian Sex Abuse Treatment Center for confidential, respectful victim care," said Shari Freeman, The Navy wants to eliminate the mentality of some Sailors who may not consider sexual assault a serious offense.

In closing, Haney commented, "As long as we have incidents of sexual assault occurring in our military, our focus on this issue will remain at the forefront," Haney said. "We will continue to aggressively work with Sailors in the fleet to ensure they receive recurring training, and understand that sexual assault is a crime and it will not be tolerated." Our Sailors are tasked to conduct challenging missions around the globe and we need to appropriately mentor each and every shipmate for the challenges of the future. We can ill afford to lose Sailors because they don't understand the damaging effects of these criminal assaults."

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