Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) progresses with the month of April, and a new theme: Sexual Assault Affects All.
The month of April is being utilized not only by the Navy, but also by presidential proclamation for the whole country, to take time to recognize the devastating impact that sexual assault can have. The Navy is not immune from the plight that is prevalent in the United States' armed forces with a crime of sexual assault or rape occurring roughly three times a day.
SAAM in the Navy looks to break down the barriers around talking about an admittedly uncomfortable topic by discussing the issue around four themes: Hurts One, Affects All, Prevention is Everyone's Duty, and We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault.
Sailors will attend educational standdowns throughout the month, and a multitude of events will be taking place throughout Naval District Washington (NDW). This week, the program is focused on the theme of "Affects All", emphasizing the fact that while a single victim is hurt by the act, all Sailors suffer for it. As "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link", so does sexual assault threaten the Navy by undermining the efficiency and readiness of Sailors it victimizes. Therefore, it affects the entire organization and by extension the safety and protection of the United States.
"Sexual assault prevents us, as a Navy, from working as a team," said Rear Adm. Martha Herb, Director, Personnel Readiness and Community Support. "This violence is corrosive to morale, and to our operational and combat readiness."
The importance of realizing that sexual assault is a problem that belongs to the entire Navy, and not just groups by gender, age or other characteristics is being heavily emphasized by various command authorities. One step towards prevention is removing the reluctance of "talking about" the issue.
"Sailors need to be aware of the importance of 'if you see something, say something'," said Naval District Washington (NDW) Command Master Chief Leland Moore. "If they do see something requiring intervention, then say something.”
SAAM is being recognized throughout the Navy, and NDW is no exception. Events last week included a Ribbon Tying at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, in which Sailors and Airmen tied teal ribbons, the symbol adapted for sexual assault, to trees around the base in order to increase awareness. The National Capitol Region (NCR) as a whole also conducted a Sexual Assault Awareness Walk, also to increase awareness. Briefs have been conducted at Anne Arundel Community College and the National Security Agency/Fort Meade.
"I am very encouraged by the sexual assault awareness events and training efforts that are going on throughout the Navy this month," said Herb. "We can no longer afford to be silent on this issue. I encourage all [Sailors] to join in on the discussion."
SAAM and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) efforts continue next week with the theme "Prevention is everyone's duty". For more information on SAAM and SAPR, please visit www.sapr.navy.mil.