Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dakota Rayburn

WESTERN PACIFIC – This April, Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are leading efforts to educate Sailors in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention (SAAPM) Month.

SAAPM was created to eliminate the crime of sexual assault and make sure service members are treated with dignity and respect.

The Navy implemented the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program to eliminate sexual assault. The goal of SAPR is to change attitudes and behaviors in the Navy and support a culture of professionalism, respect and trust. One way this is accomplished is through victim advocates.

“[The victim advocate’s mission is] to create a safe space for victims and ensure that they know their rights and resources,” said Karen Christensen, John C. Stennis’ deployed resiliency counselor.

Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Jacquelyn Parra, from Manteca, Calif., said John C. Stennis’ victim advocates actively strive to cultivate a safe environment for the crew through training. They are combating the stigmas associated with reporting an assault. Those stigmas are detrimental to the victim and workplace and can make a person unwilling to seek help if they’ve been assaulted. She said the victim advocates are a good resource for Sailors with questions about sexual assault.

“If [SAPR victim advocates] don’t know the answer to your question, we know where to find the answer to your question,” said Parra, a victim advocate aboard John C. Stennis.
People who get counseling from an advocate are not required to file a report, but there are two types of reports Sailors can file: unrestricted and restricted. In both types of reports, the victim will be given care and treatment but an unrestricted report will begin an open investigation into the incident. This requires full disclosure and cooperation from everyone involved while details and names are kept confidential on a need-to-know basis.

Once an unrestricted report is made it cannot be reverted to a restricted report. However a restricted report means an incident will not be investigated, but the victim will still be treated, cared for, counseled and have the option of filing an unrestricted report.

To file a report, or to get counseling and advice, Sailors can speak to the sexual assault resiliency counselor (SARC), any SAPR victim advocate, chaplain, or health care professional. Sailors seeking advice or help should always confirm with their counselor the extent of their confidentiality and what they are obliged to report. Chaplains, for example, have complete confidentiality, but a work center supervisor is obligated to file an unrestricted report if there is an assault.

SAPR victim advocates aboard John C. Stennis are hosting a competition to educate Sailors on the available options to prevent and respond to sexual assault. Departments throughout the ship decorate their doors to help Sailors better understand the SAPR program.

The display must include the slogan “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know your part. Do your part.” to fit this year’s theme. At the end of the competition, the victim advocates will decide which department best accomplished that goal.
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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