KEY WEST, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Key West kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 9 by hosting an improvisational show aimed at sexual assault prevention.
Sailors watched - and participated in - Catharsis Productions' "Sex Signals," an interactive play that uses humor and audience participation to empower service members with knowledge that they can use to help prevent sexual assault.
The two-person show was shown three times at NAS Key West, so Sailors at all of the air station's annexes and watch shifts could participate.
"Sex Signals" featured Catharsis' Courtney Abbott and Kyle Terry, and the duo acted out various scenarios for the audience including situations that Sailors may be familiar with, for example, off-duty overseas at a bar or a get-together in the barracks on base. Abbott and Terry portrayed gender stereotypes, acted out social pressures, discussed unrealistic fantasies and participated with the audience in discussion about each scenario.
Master-at-Arms 1st Class Carlos Galarza said he thought the show helped to clear up some people's confusions about situations that can lead to sexual assault because the Catharsis crew was in tune with the audience.
"It's just the way they interacted with the audience," Galarza said. "They really knew how to engage the public and keep everyone involved."
The overarching theme of the show was consent, not coercion, to help prevent sexual assaults. In addition to that message, the show stressed bystander intervention for when a situation looks as if it may take a turn for the worse. The audience participated in those scenarios by holding up "stop" signs during the skit when they felt the situation needed intervention.
The final scenario of the show prompted the most discussion amongst the audiences - an interview with a Sailor accused of rape. The scene, played as an interview between Abbott and the accused, a well-liked and professional Sailor, challenged the audience to rethink what is considered seductive or coercive behavior and to recognize what is truly rape. It also challenged the audience to reconsider the culture that many times holds the victim responsible for sexual assault.
Using humor and improvisation to talk about a subject as serious as sexual assault may not seem like a typical day of training in the Navy, which tends to involve lectures and slide shows, but Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Candice Boston responded positively to the production.
"I paid more attention [to this type of training] than any training I ever had a slide show on," Boston said. "I thought the show was good and they put out a lot of good information."
Prior to the showings of "Sex Signals," NAS Key West Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Lefere signed a Sexual Assault Awareness Proclamation for the base that "strongly supports the dedicated efforts of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and local crisis centers to encourage every citizen to actively engage in public and private efforts to eradicate this crime."
Lefere spoke to the audiences before each show and said he hoped to gain two things from bringing the issue to the forefront of people's minds.
"I hope victims come forward so that they can get help, and second, when they come forward, we can find those responsible," Lefere said. "We have to stop perpetrators of this heinous crime."
During April, the Fleet and Family Support Center at NAS Key West will continue to raise awareness in stopping sexual assaults by holding other events, such as hosting an information booth at the annual base Youth Fair April 14, participating in Denim Day April 25, and publishing numerous articles and messages via command information channels.
Lefere also addressed the Key West community via his weekly radio address where he explained why the issue was important to him.
"I take this issue very seriously, and I work hard to ensure my staff and personnel have the means to prevent and report sexual assault," Lefere said. "We will continue to train our Sailors and civilians year-round until we can get a true climate change about sexual assault awareness and prevention."
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 Naval Air Station Key West, visit www.navy.mil/local/naskw/.