MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors entered Sunset Cinema April 11-14, 2011, to receive their annual sexual assault awareness training expecting a PowerPoint or lecture. Instead, they were entertained and informed by the touring sexual assault awareness program, Sex Signals.
“Sexual assault is not an easy topic to talk about,” said Jenifer Husung, the Combat Center’s sexual assault coordinator and sexual assault prevention and response program manager. “For most people, if you mention sexual assault they want to run the other way.
However, when they see this show the feedback is unbelievable.
“They come to the show and it is very interactive and engaging. It really hits in a lot of the ideology, the myths out there, and the culture they are in right now with the social media,” Husung said.
The presentation has been performed at hundreds of colleges and military installations around the country and worldwide according to the Catharsis Productions website, the organization which produces Sex Signals.
“We do a lot of college shows as well as military, so it is always interesting to see the different reactions you get from the groups,” said Judith Lesser, a performer with Sex Signals.
The performers said they enjoyed performing for the military and that they felt it is important to reach them as an audience.
“I like the Marines, they are an awesome audience and insane but I love it,” said Kyle Terry, a performer with Sex Signals. “I think that sexual assault is a problem everywhere and I like that the military is taking such a proactive approach to combat it.”
By the start of the first presentation, the actors got a good vibe of how the rest of the week was going to play out.
“They are awake and responding and we get a lot of pushback but it is nothing we can’t handle,” Lesser said.
As the presentation comes to the end, it heads into a more serious direction. The actors played out a scenario where a make-believe Marine, David, newly promoted to corporal and well liked by everyone, but is accused of raping another Marine in a seemingly innocent yet controversial situation.
The audience heard a quick brief of the victim’s side of the story then David, played by Terry, explained his side of what happened that night.
After hearing his side and asking him detailed questions, the performers discussed what really happened.
“Labeling anybody like David as a rapist is difficult for most people because he doesn’t look like the stranger jumping out of the alley,” Terry said.
The command was pleased with the feedback they were getting from everyone who participated in the presentation.
“The interaction with the crowd and the skits they were doing, were both helpful and serious at the same time,” said Pfc. Ricky Driver, a student with Marine Corps Communications-Electronic School. “It was extremely entertaining and it did give all the necessary information for people to stay away from problems like rape and sexual assault.”
The sexual assault prevention and response program was happy with the success of the program.
“Overall, Sex Signals, through Catharsis Productions, does an outstanding job putting the links together,” Husung said. “Really bringing it to the audience for them to take it and make it concrete so they can utilize it later on.”
For more information on programs for sexual assault and rape, contact your unit’s Uniform Victim Advocate.