Sexual Assault Awareness Month kicks off at Submarine Force Pacific

(Via Ho’okele News)

“Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault” was the message at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) banner unveiling event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on April 4.

A coordinated event between Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) and Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (COMNAVREG), the banner unveiling marks April as Sexual Assault Awareness

Month (SAAM), with the goal to raise public awareness about sexual assault and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

“For the last two years, the Navy and the entire Department of Defense has been on a pretty significant journey in figuring out how we can rid ourselves of sexual assault,” said Capt. John Russ, COMSUBPAC chief of staff.

“Last year, we had lots of discussions about sexual assault. We are getting everyone educated, and, most importantly, people are taking action against sexual assault.”

Considerable time, effort and focus have been placed on sexual assault prevention and response. The goal is to empower each individual command to take ownership of this problem by focusing on the values we should embody day-in and day-out.

“Reporting has increased 46 percent from FY12 to FY13,” said Lt. Crystal Campbell, COMSUBPAC’s sexual assault prevention and response officer. “Though it may sound like a negative data point, it is truly a testament of progress.

“Sexual assault is a crime that is underreported and it’s a significant obstacle to overcome,” said Campbell. “An increase of reporting shows that Sailors are trusting leadership and trusting the process to come forward.”

The Navy’s goal is to reduce and eliminate sexual assault by fostering a culture of prevention through education and training, which includes encouraging Sailors to take action through bystander intervention. Bystander intervention training helps Sailors understand the value of intervening with other Sailors who may encounter risky situations that, if unchecked, may lead to sexual assault.

“It’s when somebody steps up and intervenes- when a friend at a bar jumps in and intervenes when he sees a potential sexual assault developing, or when a Sailor walks a friend home so they get home safely,” said Russ.

“It’s a testament to all the training that’s been done and all the conversations we have had about this crime,” Russ said.

The Navy has adopted a comprehensive approach to tackling the problem of sexual assault and is continuing to change its culture surrounding the issue.

“There has been an array of efforts, such as roving patrols on base and barracks, decreased hours of alcohol sales, increasing emphasis on command climate, and all-hands events with distinguished experts,” said Campbell.

April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the last 10 years. Events throughout the month are being held to raise awareness and reinforce the efforts to eliminate sexual assault from the Navy. It also provides Sailors with opportunities for personal involvement in communicating key messages.

For more information about sexual assault prevention and response, visit the Navy’s SAPR program web page at http://www.sapr.navy.mil, or the Department of Defense SAPR office website at http://www.sapr.mil. Additional information can also be found through social media channels and the hashtag #StepUpStepIn.

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