PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Hawaii-based DoD service members and civilians volunteered to bag groceries at the Pearl Harbor Commissary while handing out information on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SARP) policies and programs, April 7.
The "Bag" Sexual Assault event was led by Air Force spouse Shari Freeman, one of two sexual assault response coordinators in Hawaii.
Commander Navy Region Hawaii and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) are coordinating local events for April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The theme is "Hurts one. Affects all. Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty."
"Yes, we do see a lot of sexual assault cases," said Freeman. "We are taking it in stride because we know we are doing the best for the victim. We want to make sure that they are taken care of from every angle. We have to take it one step at the time, making sure that they get counseling, medical care, all the things that they need."
Restricted reporting are for victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling without triggering the official investigative process. Unrestricted reports, however, are for victims of sexual assault who desire medical treatment, counseling and an official investigation of the crime.
"Unfortunately, that's just the amount of cases that are reported," Freeman said. "We know that sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes that there is. We will never get an accurate figure of how many cases are happening.
"Sexual assault prevention is one of my passions only because it has touched my life. I'm a survivor, and it helps me to be able to help other people. I really enjoy my job here. I've been here almost two years. I've come across a lot of good people and helped a lot of good people along the way. It's very rewarding."
Freeman said that her experience empowered her to help other people.
"I was 17 years old then, but I am happy now because I was able to reach out and use the resources available to me much like what I'm trying to provide for other survivors here in this area," said Freeman. "I think that makes a big difference, using the resources available."
Chief Machinist Mate (SW/AW) Maya Ault, a SAPR point of contact and victim advocate for the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, also volunteered to help out at the event.
"I really believe in our cause, and we really want to get the awareness out there so people will know that we are here to prevent sexual assault and be there for the victim," said Ault. "When I was younger, a junior Sailor, something like this happened to my friend. We didn't know what to do. We didn't know much about the program. Now that I look back ten years ago, I realized that there were so many things we could have done to help her."
At the event, Ault and other volunteers promoted "Denim Day" April 25, where various commands will wear jeans as a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
Freeman, Ault and other volunteers talked to commissary shoppers about the history of Denim Day. In 1999, the Italian Supreme Court decided to overturn a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. The court argued that the victim must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, thus making the act consensual. The ruling sparked widespread protest and the wearing of jeans became an international symbol of protest against destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SAAM.
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For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.