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Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month Observed Through April

NSA Monterey Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Jennifer Schoen, right, and uniformed victim advocate STG1 Ryan Hillis, center, offer information to Michelle Gomez at a sexual assault prevention resource table, April 11. Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is an opportunity for the entire DOD to underscore their commitment to eliminating the crime of sexual assault.

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY MONTEREY (April 12, 2019) -- Every April, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) kicks off with events and activities across the Navy enterprise seeking to raise awareness about sexual assault and to inspire participants to step up and step in.  

“Be the change you want to see. It starts with each of us. We need to able to talk about it, address it and hold people accountable,” said Jennifer Schoen, NSA Monterey’s Sexual Assault and Response Coordinator (SARC). “Sometimes it isn’t easy but I encourage you to challenge others on their actions, their comments, innuendos, and jokes.”

Schoen and uniformed victim advocates seek to raise awareness about sexual assault every Thursday in April from 1130-1300 with a resource table featuring sketches, diagrams and graphics of statistics, information and short narratives concerning sexual assault awareness.

“Be aware, speak out, and know the resources so you can help yourself and others,” Schoen added.

The newest member of Schoen’s team earned his uniformed victim advocate (UVA) certification in March. Although he has not been personally affected by sexual assault, being an UVA is a way for him to assist survivors.  

“I want to help survivors in any way that I can. I am a people helper and I feel like someone who is affected by this needs as much help as they can get,” said Sonar Technician Surface 1st Class Ryan Hillis, a laboratory technician in the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission” is the theme of this year’s SAAPM.  Schoen, NPS uniformed victim advocates, and NSA Monterey Commanding Officer Capt. Rich Wiley kicked off the month when they “planted” a teal pinwheel garden on the lawn north of Ingersoll Hall. The color teal is recognized as a symbol of sexual assault awareness and prevention, Schoen said.

Watch for the SAAPM resource table at the main gym on April 18, and outside the El Prado Room on April 25.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time. It can be overwhelming and devastating for victims and their families, Schoen said. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is available to provide victims with accurate information, prompt medical care, counseling and assistance with the military justice system.

The Department of Defense Safe Helpline provides worldwide live, confidential support, 24/7 online via their telephone hotline at 877-995-5247, operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a national anti-sexual violence organization. Locally, call the NSAM 24/7 hotline at 831-760-2329, or the NSAM SARC at 831-760-0020. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.