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SAAPM: Protecting our people protects our mission

By Cpl. Ashley Phillips | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | May 7, 2019


Marine Wing Support Detachment 273 participated in Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month by setting up displays as a part of their awareness campaign at their detachment. The month of April is recognized across the DoD as SAAPM and as this awareness campaign has come to an end for 2019, the intent of SAAPM is something the Marines of MWSD-273 will continue to uphold in their everyday lives.

“To begin SAAPM we started a project to have Marines color 998 printed dog tags to represent the 998 sexual assaults reported in the Marine Corps in FY 2017,” said Sgt. Brittany Callaway, the sexual assault prevention and response victim advocate with MWSD-273. “We gave everyone a chance to participate and show their support. We also talked about how those numbers have gone up, but because Marines are more aware and are more comfortable reporting it because of the education and the climate of their units.”

The unit also put up two clothes lines that Marines were able to decorate T-shirts and denim jeans in support of Denim Day. The shirts and denim jeans had SAPR related quotes and sayings. Both clotheslines were at the front of the detachment on the fence displayed for everyone to see.

“Denim Day dates back to a rape case in Italy in 1997 after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rapist’s conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the young woman was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans,” Callaway said. “So some of the jeans we had the Marines decorate said things like, ‘my clothes are not my consent,’ and this was a way to start a sometimes uncomfortable conversation.”

As evidence from the detachment’s command climate survey, Callaway says that they were able to increase the Marine’s knowledge of the SAPR program. Additionally, many said that they feel comfortable and sure of their reporting options and who to talk to. Callaway tries to present the training and information in a relevant and comfortable way so that the Marines will listen.

“I always have what I call ‘SAPR Swag’ (water bottles, lanyards, various tools with SAPR information on them given as prizes) with me when I do the regular training to try to make it more fun,” Callaway said. “This is a serious subject and it’s important information, but if I can make it less uncomfortable then hopefully the Marines will absorb the information. One of my other resources I use is the ‘Tea and Consent’ video.”

As SAAPM comes to an end, the wall of 998 dog tags were taken down as well as the clotheslines, but the SAPR advocates will continue to hold regular training and improve the culture regarding SAPR and reporting.

“I think here at the detachment SAAPM went really well and a lot of the Marines saw what Sgt. Callaway put up around the squadron,” said Maj. Patrick W. Junick, the commanding officer of MWSD-273. “It really increased awareness. It’s good that a unit this small can have such a good awareness campaign. Our victim advocates do well at their job and make our Marines feel comfortable and educated. Moving forward, I want our Marines to know, no means no and your clothing does not indicate consent. Do the right thing for the right reasons.”