NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- According to Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command, every Sailor, civilian and family member plays a part in reducing and eliminating sexual assault. Understanding how to recognize opportunities for intervention is vital to stopping unsafe behavior, to include retaliation.
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 also informing Sailors of ways to prevent these types of incidents.
“There are two sides of it, you have the sexual assault prevention and the response piece,” said Lt. Shineka Haskins, from Rockford, Florida, a SAPR point of contact (POC). “The prevention is about how a Sailor can work their way out of a difficult situation, and the response piece is when sexual assault has actually occurred.”
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Magdalena Serrano, from Richgrove, California, a SAPR POC, knows what the examples of prevention can be.
“Some of the prevention methods are paying attention to your surroundings and if something doesn’t feel right, just walk away and go somewhere else,” said Serrano. “If you go out with some friends, and something doesn’t look right, go ahead and try to intervene in some type of way. This is a type of bystander intervention.”
Unfortunately, sexual assault prevention does not always work and SAPR victim advocates (VA) engage to take action.
“The response is who the victim will talk to after the sexual assault,” said Haskins. “It is about trying to get them the best care that they need because it is all about giving that victim their choice back. We are trying to give them their choice back or their voice back, if you will.”
It is important to know that talking to certain people about sexual assault can have different results.
According to Haskins when someone reports sexual assault to a VA, medical, or a chaplain it can be restricted reporting, but reporting sexual assault to your chain of command will result in unrestricted reporting.
According to www.SAPR.mil, the unrestricted option is recommended for victims of sexual assault who desire an official investigation and command notification in addition to healthcare, victim advocacy and legal services. The restricted option is for adult victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals without triggering the official investigative process or notification to command.
Even though April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Sailors are shipmates 24/7, and shipmates watch each other’s back.
“We talk about sexual assault prevention a lot in the month of April, but it is something that should be on everyone’s mind at all times to keep Sailors safe,” said Haskins. “We know we are not going to be able to stop sexual assault, but what we can do is educate Sailors and minimize the risk.”
At https://portal.cvn.navy.mil/sites/CVN73/SAPR/SitePages/Home.aspx Sailors can find VA and POC information. Also if someone needs to talk to someone, they can call the SAPR phone line at 757-761-5630.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.