SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 was awarded the most interactive command award for Sexual Assault Awareness Prevention Month (SAAPM) by Naval Base San Diego.
Throughout the month of April, the staff of ESG-3 hosted a variety of command events to bring sexual assault awareness to the San Diego waterfront.
SAAPM is designed to build momentum for year-round efforts to eliminate the crime of sexual assault, while making sure all Sailors and Marines are treated with dignity and respect.
"Sexual assault impacts the ship, the squadron and the overall command," said Rear Adm. Dan "Dano" Fillion, commander, ESG-3. "We need to prevent future acts that damage the Navy and Marine Corps team."
To start the month off, the ESG-3 staff held a SAAPM kick-off presentation to present facts about sexual assault and explain why prevention is so important. The presentation also encouraged maximum staff participation in all SAAPM activities.
A self-defense course was offered mid-month, for both males and females, taught by Lt. Cmdr. Fredrick Atienza, flag secretary at ESG-3.
"It is important to understand the basic principles of personal defense in what is sometimes an unpredictable world," said Atienza. "Even in relatively safe areas, it is important to be self-aware and be aware of your situation. This awareness can mean the difference between surviving and being a statistic."
During the two-hour self-defense course, participants were taught basics maneuvers in evasion and protection.
"What we learned in the course, we are able to pass along to our friends and family at home," said Chief Yeoman Ruth Adams, self-defense course participant. "It is important to share 'best practices' for self-defense like evading and escape techniques."
A SAAPM social was held at the command headquarters the week following the self-defense course in an effort to initiate conversation about sexual assault and prevention. ESG-3 members had the opportunity to take photos in a photo booth with props and signage showcasing the themes of "No Means No" and "Know Your Part. Do your Part." Once participants took photos in the photo booth, they were encouraged to post the images to social media pages and share with family, friends and shipmates.
"We wanted to breathe new life into a topic that is difficult to talk about," said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Kristen McDonald, ESG-3 staff member, and one of the SAAPM social organizers. "The photo booth was a fun and interactive way to convey what SAAPM means to individuals. There were chalkboards so that members could write their own messages about SAAPM on them, and hold them up in the photos."
To wrap up the month, the staff participated in "Denim Day," which is an internationally recognized day of remembrance for rape victims. Denim Day began as a demonstration in Italy against the 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a convicted rapist's sentence.
"The conviction was overturned because the court was convinced that since the girl wore tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, therefore giving consent," said Operation Specialist 1st Class ShaQuita Calloway, ESG-3 victim advocate. "To me, Denim Day means that we are standing up for a cause [to eliminate] rape and sexual assault. I wanted to participate this year to emphasize what consent means and kill the myths about sexual assault."
While the whole month of April is dedicated to raising awareness, it is important to keep the conversation going all year long so that entire fleet can put an end to sexual assault.
ESG-3 comprises three amphibious squadrons, eight naval support elements and 13 amphibious warships comprised of more than 13,500 active-duty and reserve Sailors and Marines. The mission of ESG-3 is to serve as the command element for Marine expeditionary-brigade level expeditionary operations as commander of an amphibious task force.
For more news from Expeditionary Strike Group 3, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/esg3/.