Respect, Protect, and Empower Your Shipmates

15 April 2021
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday issued a statement to the fleet for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Apr. 15.

Shipmates, during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, it is important that we have a frank conversation about this difficult topic. And while we should talk about this subject year-round, it is important to me that we discuss this right now.

Let me be absolutely clear: sexual assault is an abhorrent crime that has no place in our Navy – or society – and inflicts unimaginable pain upon its victims. We all have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against it, as well as empower sexual assault survivors to seek support and assistance.

Respect. Protect. Empower. These are words to act on as we talk about sexual assault prevention and response.

  • Respect one another. Respect is foundational to how we interact with our shipmates and how we see ourselves. Respect is an integral part of healthy relationships with friends, family, co-workers, and our communities.
  • Protect one another. Be an active bystander. Step in when you see a shipmate in trouble. Treat your shipmates like family.
  • Empower one another. Encourage your shipmates to report inappropriate behavior in the workplace. And if a sexual assault occurs, empower them to reach out for support - to a Victim Advocate, SARC or a Chaplain.

To end destructive behaviors like sexual assault and sexual harassment, we must have a Culture of Excellence across our force. Respecting, protecting and empowering one another will help us do just that.  The Navy must evolve beyond simply responding to incidents after they occur. We must, as a team, proactively prevent sexual assault from occurring in the first place.

This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is an opportunity for every person to commit to being part of the solution. 

And we must rededicate ourselves to being an organization where neither sexual assault nor sexual harassment are tolerated, where survivors are supported, and where all Sailors – active and reserve, uniformed and civilian – can live and work without fear.

Simply put, we ALL have a role in combating sexual assault. And while there is still much work to be done, this is something we MUST do.  That’s the Navy of the future. Help us get there sooner. Respect, protect, and empower one another … so that we can bring an end to sexual assault for good.

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