Sexual Assault Prevention Focus Continues

Story Number: NNS120501-16Release Date: 5/1/2012 3:39:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Chief Terrina Weatherspoon, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy's focus on sexual assault and the measures in place to prevent it can not stop in April according to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.

"On average two of our shipmates are sexually assaulted daily," said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick West. "Two too many.

One of the goals during SAAM is to make sure the light doesn't dim during the rest of the year. So in addition to safety stand downs and general military training, some commands are taking further steps to ensure a continued focus on this initiative.

"This should not just be something we are focused on one month a year," said West. "The problem is ongoing, so the talks, training, preventive measures and solutions should be ongoing as well."

"One of the biggest things we are working on right now is our Bystander Intervention program," said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Diann Kunze, Navy Information Operations Command, Georgia. "Right now the program is in its infancy, but we have briefed the commanding officer, and so far he has liked our ideas."

One of those ideas is expanding the SafeRide program, said Kunze. Her team is working toward using SafeRide not only for just getting home after too many drinks, but also for getting out of a situation that doesn't feel right or safe. Kunze stresses that this will only be used for serious threats and dangers, and that the expectation is for people to contact 911 if possible.

"Our command is also trying to establish a 'Teal Dot' program," said Kunze. "Ninety-five percent of the command works in an area where badges are required. The idea is to encourage people to take a 'bystander intervention pledge' and then wear a teal dot in plain view on their badge. This will serve as a way to recognize those who have taken the pledge and to keep the cause fresh in everyone's mind."

Some commands have encouraged their Sailors to look into downloading the free application "Circle of 6."
This application, co-created by anti-violence advocate and filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman and initially intended for college students, is designed to make it easier for someone who finds themselves in a dangerous situation to quickly get in contact with friends for help. Launched March 19, the app has been downloaded more than 15,000 times and won the White House Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge.

After users download Circle of 6, they choose six friends to make up their circle. The app has preprogrammed SMS messages that can be sent to the six friends, along with the user's GPS coordinates, if a threat emerges. It also has a feature that links users to resources and allows them to program in a local hotline.

"Reaching out for help if possible is absolutely your best option," said West. "However, I also want to encourage Sailors to recognize dangerous situations and to always do the right thing. Sometimes just speaking up against a conversation you feel could lead to a negative outcome is enough to prevent a violent situation."

There are several things you can do to protect yourself and others from sexual assault.

- Be a good friend-keep an eye on your friends to make sure they are safe.

- If you see someone approaching someone in a way that seems to make that person uncomfortable, do something. Be alert, ask if the person needs help, and then get help.

- Sexual assault and rape happen to men as well- males should not feel ashamed if they are sexually assaulted. MEn can seek counseling like anyone else that has been sexually assaulted or raped.

- State your desires clearly and ask permission. If you want to be intimate with someone, make sure that person consents. If that person does not want to be intimate, stop right away.

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120329-N-ZZ999-002 The graphic logo to illustrate Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) initiative.
March 30, 2012
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