PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) honored survivors of sexual assault and harassment during the month of April in observance of the Navy's annual Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM).
SAAPM is a nationwide event where both civilian and military communities come together to highlight efforts to care for sexual assault victims and identify ways to incorporate prevention practices into the daily mission.
"Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is important because it brings attention to the fact that Sexual Assault is a preventable crime, and that it's not just between two people," said Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Shalise Bates-Pratt. "It is an issue that affects families and communities, and threatens our mission, trust and safety, so it is everyone's business."
"We all have a part in combating sexual assault and SAAPM offers an excellent opportunity to focus attention on our individual roles," added Shipyard Commander Capt. Scott Brown. "This year NNSY once again had a great line up of activities and special events."
The first of those events was a kick-off ceremony outside of Bldg. 1500 April 6. Prior to morning Colors, Sailors and civilians wrote messages of support on white flags which were neatly displayed on the lawn in front of Bldg. 1500 for the entire month. Brown signed the 2018 SAAPM proclamation, and addressed those in attendance.
In the proclamation, Brown called sexual assault an affront to the core values we support and defend.
"We must work together to educate our community about what can be done to prevent sexual assault and to support sexual assault victims by ensuring they are provided necessary assistance. I am committed to creating an environment where all employees are safe from threats, and that includes sexual assault and harassment. I encourage everyone to support these events as much as possible. Most of all, I encourage you to support sexual assault prevention year round."
The improvisation group Pure Praxis returned to NNSY to perform for Sailors and civilians. Pure Praxis uses live theater to recreate complicated, sensitive scenarios and gives the audience an opportunity to rehearse bystander intervention and assertive communication strategies that are key to sexual assault prevention.
Bates-Pratt and her team also hosted an invitation-only lunch for victim advocates to show appreciation, provide specialized training, and refresh their response skills.
Teal and Denim Day was held at the end of the month. Employees were encouraged to wear denim and teal ribbons, shirts or accessories to show support for sexual assault survivors.
The third annual Teal Bowling Tournament was held April 27 to close out the month. Teams of six comprised of NNSY Sailors and civilians competed in a friendly bowl-off at Strike Zone Bowling Center at Scott Center Annex.
While the tournament helps end SAAPM on a positive note, it's important to remember why these events are held in the first place: to raise awareness and promote the prevention of sexual assault.
"We can continue to support survivors by educating ourselves, attending events that support a culture of respect, using our voice when we hear about things that are inappropriate in the workplace, and believing and supporting our shipmates, friends, family and coworkers who are survivors," said Bates-Pratt.
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For more news from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnsy/.