VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) held a training stand-down for headquarters staff personnel April 25 that focused on intervention and a zero tolerance mindset for sexual assault and harassment.
The Navy's exhaustive campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault and its prevention has permeated all levels of the chain of command. From the top brass to the deckplate Sailor awareness and prevention training is reaching everyone because sexual assault not only hurts one, it affects all.
Chief Gunner's Mate William Durbin of CENSECFOR led the training session by first identifying sexual assault for what it is - a crime. An act that causes trauma to the victim be it physical, physiological or both. An act that is not only destructive to unit cohesion, but also to mission readiness and a unit's ability to be combat effective.
"How can we ensure our Sailors are prepared to prevent sexual assault?" asked Durbin who answered, "By learning about Bystander Intervention."
The strategy of Bystander Intervention (BI) is an all out effort by the Department of Navy (DoN) to prevent and hopefully eliminate sexual assault from the Navy's ranks. BI calls upon all military and civilian personnel to protect each other and to take the necessary initiative to help out a shipmate who may be targeted for sexual assault.
BI teaches that the only wrong response of someone who witnesses an event that could lead to a sexual assault is to stand by and do nothing. BI also teaches intervention techniques that individuals can use to diffuse a situation before it escalates in to a sexual assault.
"Although weeks one and two of the training seemed to be a refresher of what we already knew, weeks three and four focuses more on how bystanders can prevent sexual harassment and assault," said Adrienne Allen, CENSECFOR training officer.
"I believe this bystander intervention training will be one of the more effective elements that reduce and hopefully prevent sexual assault before it occurs."
Another element to the training presented by Durbin was that of command climate and specifically sexism where he pointed out just how easy it is for people to disregard or go along with sexist remarks in the workplace.
"Sexism often starts as background noise in the form of passing comments, jokes and emails that grow out of control in an environment that permits them," said Durbin.
Durbin went on to point out that while the people who laugh at sexist jokes or those who continually forward inappropriate emails are not committing sexual assault, they are creating an environment where sexual assault can breed.
When asked how this month's training on sexual assault awareness and prevention has enlightened his understanding Durbin said, "It has increased my awareness for the core of it, which is bystander intervention."
"It [bystander intervention] was pushed before as a way to always recognize and intervene - to stop it [sexual harassment], but not to this limit until now. I think it [bystander intervention] is an excellent way to go about preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault. It puts so much more emphasis on the Sailor realizing it is their responsibility."
Recapping the training session, CENSECFOR Commanding Officer, Capt. James R. Boorujy, recalled the fact that most incidents of sexual assault occurred during the weekends where alcohol played a major role saying, "I have said this before, nothing much good comes from alcohol."
According to a 2010 Defense Manpower Data Center survey on workplace and gender relations of active duty members, 40 percent of women and 23 percent of men indicated that their experience of unwanted sexual contact included the use of alcohol and/or drugs.
The survey also revealed that 71 percent of women and 85 percent of men serving on active duty in the Department of Defense (DoD) who experienced unwanted sexual contact chose not to report the incident.
Some of the victim's reasons for not reporting the incident were they did not want anyone to know; felt uncomfortable about making a report; afraid of retaliation by the offender; and hearing about negative experiences of other victims.
The DoD Safe Helpline, a revolutionary crisis support service for those who are affected by sexual assault in the DoD community, provides live, one-on-one advice and support 24 hours a day. Moreover, it is anonymous and secure to provide victims of sexual assault with the help they need.
To contact the DoD Safe Helpline, text your zip code or installation/base name to 55-247 (CONUS) or 202-470-5546 (OCONUS), Call 877-995-5247 or chat at www.SafeHelpline.org.
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 #SAAM.
For more information about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/readiness/Pages/SexualAssault.aspx.
For more information about Center for Security Forces, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/csf/.
For more news from Center for Security Forces, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/csf/.