NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- According to the Department of Justice, sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. It is a sensitive subject that should be handled with the utmost care and respect.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) representatives aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) provide a safe avenue for Sailors to report incidents, while informing Sailors of ways to prevent these types of incidents.
"SAPR training and recognition is a pretty integral part of the ship," said Operations Specialist First Class Keison Hunt, one of George Washington's SAPR victim advocates. "We try to mitigate incidents by means of training and by providing information to all Sailors on the ship on how sexual assault effects the ship when it occurs."
One form of training provided is bystander intervention. Sailors can help keep their shipmates safe by actively using bystander intervention.
"The best way to keep your shipmates safe is through bystander intervention," said Hunt. "If you see something do something."
While taking immediate action during a sexual assault incident is very helpful, it is also important for Sailors to know who to contact if they see a situation, as well as what to report.
"If a Sailor sees something, regardless of what it is, they should report it," said Chief Logistics Specialist Tamar Stewart, the sexual assault response coordinator aboard George Washington. "If a Sailor is at work, or even out in town, they can call the quarterdeck and talk to someone there. They can also call their leading petty officer (LPO), their leading chief petty officer (LCPO) or anyone in authority to talk to them about a situation."
It is important for Sailors to report anything they think might be a SAPR incident.
"Sailors should never not report something they see," said Stewart. "They never know if something is wrong in a situation and they should always check to be sure."
Sailors have several options if they feel like they have been involved in, or have seen a SAPR incident.
"If a Sailor has an incident with someone, in their department or on the ship, it is up to them who they tell and what steps are taken," said Stewart. "Restricted reports are taken to the SAPR point of contact and then becomes a restricted case meaning only the SAPR representative and the victim are aware of the situation. If a victim tells a friend or someone in their command, it becomes unrestricted, and is looked at by the chain of command."
Although sexual assault is a difficult topic to face, it is important for Sailors to be informed and proactive in order to help keep their shipmates safe. One of the ways to do that is to keep up-to-date in SAPR training, as well as knowing who to talk to and what options are available. If you have seen a sexual assault, or if you have been a victim of a sexual assault, you can also contact George Washington's SAPR advocates, Stewart, Hunt, or Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Chela Bethea, the ship's chaplains, Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Hatton and Cmdr. Philip Bagrow, or contact the safe helpline at 1- 877-995-5247. For more information, visit www.safehelpline.org.
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For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.