Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms Calif. --
One out of every three women and one out of every eight men in the military have either been a victim of, or affected by sexual assault. What if it was your mother? What if it was your sister, or your best friend? What would you do?
These were the questions the cast members of “No Zebras and More” asked to a crowd of service members during a performance promoting sexual assault prevention at the Combat Center’s Sunset Cinema March 26 and 27.
“We are very happy to get this opportunity to present to the servicemen and women,” said Braden Thompson, cast member and advocate, “No Zebras and More.” “The military has taken really good steps to try and make a change and to try to make things better and by bringing programs like us in. I think they’re showing that they take the information and the situations seriously.”
The Department of the Navy contracted the group to travel to bases and provide bystander training, encouraging Marines to be proactive when they see the signs of a possible sexual assault. Their name reflects their proactive attitude about stopping such incidents, unlike zebras, who may stand by while a fellow zebra is eaten.
“The purpose is to not come in and say, ‘Don’t commit crime,’ but rather to intervene when they see crime happening so that they can stop sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and harassment,” Thompson said.
The show demonstrated real-life scenarios men and women in the military may find themselves or others in. The performance started out light, with some humor and information about sexual crimes, but as the show progressed the scenes became darker and more violent.
“We don’t want to go up there and preach, we want to present the situations as realistically as we can,” Thompson said. “When you actually get a chance to see it as it happens in real life, it kind of puts it in perspective.”
This was the first time this new format for sexual assault training has been utilized at the Combat Center. It is a change of pace from the traditional slide shows and power points used to educate the masses.
“It’s out of the box. It’s creative. It’s real life. They are giving actual real-life scenarios, they’re giving real stories,” said Jennifer Husung, the Combat Center’s sexual assault response coordinator. “It’s one thing when we get up and do power points and we throw the power points up there and here are the figures and here is the information, it doesn’t necessarily resonate with most individuals.
“I have found, in my 17 years of working with sexual assault, any time we are able to bring in something like this or actually provide vignettes, real-life stuff, it just resonates better and it hits home,” Husung added.
“It was good. A lot more informative than the normal power point,” said Colton Hallgren, light armored vehicle repair technician, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, who attended the show. “It was more attention grabbing.”
The group performed five one-hour shows at the Combat Center to hundreds of Marines and sailors. In addition to their performances, service members were made aware of the resources available to them on base such as the counseling center, family advocacy programs and their battalion’s advocates.
“Every single battalion has at least two uniformed victim advocates who have gone through credentialed training to be able to support and help them,” Husung said. “We have two (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) victim advocates and chaplains we work hand-in-hand with and all those have confidentiality. Anything that we need to link that individual up to assist them.”
All these platforms are available to service members at the Combat Center. For more information go to http://www.29palms.marines.mil/Staff/G1Manpower/SAPR.aspx or to report any type of sexual assault to yourself or others, call 799-0273 .