NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (NNS) -- Clinics and wards in the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center are typically filled with patients, nurses and various staff members moving purposefully from room to room providing patient care.
There was a different scene, however, April 17, on the third floor of Building 134, as patients and staff were replaced with actors and a video crew.
The Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (DON SAPRO) utilized Lovell FHCC and areas of Recruit Training Command (RTC) and Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL) to film two training videos for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) awareness. Lovell FHCC was the site for a portion of an educational video that will be shown during training at the Senior Enlisted Academy (SEA) at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Myna Shegog, Lovell FHCC sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), assisted with the film. Shegog, who also is the sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) medical program manager, ensured the portrayal of the victim's experience with the forensic examiner was realistic during the scene. She helped set up a scenario with personal-interactions and the use of a SAFE kit to collect evidence from a victim following an assault. Shegog said that Lovell FHCC was selected to assist with the film because the FHCC's SAPR program has been recognized by the Navy as a model program.
"It was extremely important to portray the scene as accurate in order for the viewer to 'live' the experience through the victim's eyes," Shegog said. "It's easy to tell someone what happened, but it makes a better impact when they can experience it for themselves. The accuracy of this setting allows for viewers to 'experience' the forensic exam."
As the subject matter expert for the SAFE kit scene, Shegog reviewed and made recommendations to the script, helped the actors with their verbal and physical communication through the forensic exam process, taught and demonstrated activities that were important to portray accurately in the film and critiqued the actors and film crew.
"The purpose is to provide (senior enlisted service members) an experience that will promote recognition of the trauma associated with a sexual assault and also incite compassion for service members that have been victims of this crime," Shegog said. "I believe the impact of this film will make a significant difference among the fleet in the treatment of service members who have been assaulted."
Working with the actors was a smooth process for Shegog, as they were receptive and also aware of the significance of the scene.
"I feel really strongly about (my role) because there's a lot of shame and a lot of secrecy that I think can come into play when we're talking about sexual assault, and I think the number one thing is to be like 'this is a conversation, there's no shame, let's not hide anything, let's talk about things;' so to be in a project that is helping to do that and facilitate those conversations is really important," said Emily Casey, who is cast in the role of the SANE.
Amy Leigh Abelson, who plays the role of the victim, said the role was important to her because the purpose of being an artist is to help, inspire and enlighten the audience.
"I certainly hope that my performance is an accurate portrayal that will give people a better idea of what it is to go through (a traumatic experience), and they'll be able to imagine better how they can help these people or how they themselves can be those people," Abelson said. "Anyone can be a victim, and there's not a particular personality or a particular strength or person that goes through it."
Andi Bryant, training specialist at DON SAPRO, said that with senior chief petty officers recently being required to attend the SEA, there was a need for a SAPR curriculum designed specifically for use at the academy because their leadership roles are unique.
"(The SAFE kit scene) is part of a story that is looking at how senior chiefs can help support victims that are in their command and how doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing can either help or prevent other victims from feeling comfortable and disclosing that they've been assaulted and seeking care," Bryant said.
The goal of the training video during the SEA course, Bryant said, will be to draw the viewers into the situation and make it real for them in a way that they can relate to, and then learn from, to develop a better understanding and awareness of the process.
"The vast majority of people don't have experience with what that SAFE kit involves and just how detailed and invasive it can be, so I think having the opportunity to show a little bit about the process and what is involved in that is a crucial learning point and an opportunity for us to talk about something that most people just don't have any concept of," Bryant said. "We say we're going to do a forensic exam and everybody says 'great,' but I don't know that they understand truly exactly what that means. So having them develop a better understanding and awareness is really a crucial piece of this."
Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/SC) Dena Reese, from DON SAPRO, said the video will also illustrate to the SEA classes that there are no stereotypical habits of victim response and that even if someone declines to have the examination done, it does not mean they are not a victim.
"(The training video will help demonstrate) the importance of knowing our Sailors and knowing what has changed, what is different, and our preconceived biases of 'oh, you're laughing today so you must not have been a victim,' " said Reese, from Athens, Georgia. "It helps us debunk some of those biases and some of those myths, and it also helps us learn how to better take care of our Sailors, not only on the victim side of the house but we also have to stay neutral when it comes to someone who was accused."
The SAFE kit is an optional method for collecting evidence, and victims are not required to have it done.
"A lot of times we get wrapped around the axel of 'if you were really a victim you would have had a SAFE exam done.' That's so not a true statement. It's really up to the individual victim," Reese said. "And really at the end of the day, while they are very useful as far as forensic evidence is concerned, they will not prove or disprove guilt or innocence."
Reese said they wanted to ensure the video would illustrate how tough the process could be, without discouraging victims from having the examination done.
"Myna is a rock star when it comes to SANE nurses ... using her as a subject matter expert to walk through what happens is really important because we want to portray it literally, factually and as best we can," Reese said. "You can have the best rock star SANE nurse, and this process is hard. And this person has just experienced a trauma, so going through something like this, it can be traumatic all by itself."
The training video will be interspersed with dialogue, activities and group discussion to allow participants to be engaged and involved in the training. It is projected to be used in the October, 2015, convening of SEA.
For more news from Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/fhcc/.