VIRGNIIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines at Naval Air Station Oceana filled the base theater Oct. 29 for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training given by the InterACT performance troupe.
During the performance, five actors from the InterACT troupe acted out various scenarios leading to sexual assault, as well as dealing with the aftermath of being a victim. In one scene where a boyfriend and girlfriend are fighting, the troupe invited several audience members to come to the stage and show how they, as bystanders, might intervene. Participants were asked to find ways to calm the tension between the couple and defuse the argument.
"In Hollywood and movies, it is very clear who the good person and bad person are, but in our own lives there is a much more grey area," said InterACT Executive Director Marc D. Rich.
Rich is a nationally recognized leader in predatory violence prevention and has led the troupe in speaking to audiences around the United States.
Based out of California State University in Long Beach, InterACT consists of 40 members and they have performed for more than 17,000 people since the beginning of 2014. They have been performing since 2000 and are contracted to perform 400 more shows by 2017. The troupe originated in the school's communications studies department and performs for incoming college freshmen, athletes and military members.
"We have different subject matters but sexual assault prevention is our number one because it focuses on bystander intervention," said Kelly Anderson, the InterACT lead program facilitator. "We want the audience members to feel empowered when they see their peers on stage; as important as the subject matter is, if you don't tap into it in a different way with creative insight, a lot of the information is lost."
During the performance, the actors acted out different situations dealing with sexual assault, while balancing thought-provoking conversation with humor. Sailors and Marines were asked to participate in several scenarios, as well as express their feelings from their seats.
"Because the show was so interactive, it gave people a really good opportunity to put themselves in the position where they might not usually be and find the right ways to intervene in a safe way," said Larissa Sutherland, a representative for Samaritan House. "I think they did a really great job at presenting believable scenarios."
Samaritan House has been serving the Hampton Roads community with education, training and support groups to stop domestic violence since 1984. Samaritan House staff had been invited by Oceana's Fleet and Family Services to participate in the event Wednesday to raise awareness of what they offer the community when it comes to sexual assault prevention.
"It is always good to bring people together to see different perspectives on how to approach sexual assault. For those that have never been exposed to this situation, this gave them a chance to see different ways to attack such issues," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Lisa McDonald who attended the event. McDonald is stationed at Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic at Oceana.
Sexual assault reporting has increased 50 percent in the military according to the data released by the Department of Defense for 2013. The increase is believed to be a result of commands delivering consistent and effective prevention and response methods and programs.
NAS Oceana Executive Officer Capt. Louis Schager addressed all the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response representatives in the audience.
"I want to thank you for volunteering to help out Sailors and Marines. I can't tell you how valuable that service is that you provide."
After the show, the performers received a standing ovation for their efforts. For more information about sexual assault prevention, contact your command representative or visit www.sapr.mil for additional resources.
For more news from Naval Air Station Oceana, visit www.navy.mil/local/oceana/.