Surface Warfare Officers School Unit (SWOSU), Great Lakes, staff participated in a variety of activities to raise awareness during national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) throughout April including a staff training session on April 24.
The training was combined with a potluck luncheon for staff to familiarize them with their command advocates and what type of assistance is available.
“Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an opportunity for all of us to take focus on an issue that, rightfully so, has received a lot of attention over the last couple of years,” said Cmdr. Eugene Roberts, commanding officer, SWOSU. “Our leadership and staff are committed to raising awareness and to creating a renewed mindset focused on the prevention and elimination of sexual assault both in and out of ranks.”
An ongoing project that is visible to staff and students in Building 236 is the Clothesline Project, a visual display of shirts with graphic messages and illustrations designed by SWOSU staff members that depict women survivors of violence. They then hang the shirts on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.
The purpose of the nationwide project, which began in 1990, is to increase awareness of the impact of violence against women, to celebrate a woman’s strength to survive and to provide another avenue for her to courageously break the silence that often surrounds her experience.
“At any given time I’m walking through there, I’ll see random people stopping and reading the shirts,” said MMC(SW) Raymond Miranda, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) command liaison.
Also on their agenda wasparticipation in the SAPR 5k Dash of Color run held Wednesday.
“We’re inviting all personnel and their family or friends within SWOSU to attempt to do the run. The objective is to have a goal with somebody and to start something and get them to the finish point that they may have thought they couldn’t achieve,” said Miranda. “If someone within our group gets tired and wishes to walk, then the whole group is going to stop and we’re going to walk together. We’re going to start together and finish together with the concept of a nice slow run.”
“These various projects are meant to educate sailors but are also meant to create a human or emotional attachment to a crime that is often unreported and that can be difficult to discuss,” said Roberts. “Awareness doesn’t start and stop with the first and last day of April. We must take an around-the-clock approach to the prevention of sexual assault. My staff works very closely with Training Support Center and Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit in the facilitation of bystander intervention through the entire year. April and SAAM simply affords us an opportunity to increase awareness.”