No one is exempt from the responsibility of 'if you see something, say something', and the duty of helping prevent sexual assault.
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 occurring roughly three times a day.
"Training is key to preventing sexual assault," said Chandra Vickers, Deputy Equal Employment Officer (EEO) for Naval District Washington (NDW).
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 NDW. This week's theme is "Prevention is Everyone's Duty", which highlights the fact that everyone plays a role in helping to prevent sexual assault. As everyone is affected by the act of sexual assault, it is also everyone's responsibility to make sure that this crime does not happen.
"If one is affected we're all affected," said Vickers. "If you look at it like links in a chain, one link that is weak makes it so there's no strength in that entire force."
According to Vickers, reporting is the key act that an individual Sailor can do to help prevent sexual assault. If a Sailor is in a dangerous situation or leading up to one, reporting to the chain of command could be the key between a Sailor staying safe, or having a terrible crime afflicted on them that will affect them the rest of their lives. Vickers implies that "see something, say something" is not just a catchy phrase, but a vital theme.
SAAM is being recognized throughout the Navy, and NDW is no exception. Events 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 and 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 Rear Adm. Martha Herb, Director, Personnel Readiness and Community Support. "We can no longer afford to be silent on this issue. I encourage all [Sailors] to join in on the discussion."
SAAM and SAPR efforts continue next week with the theme "We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault". For more information on SAAM and SAPR, please visit www.sapr.navy.mil.