For several years now, President Barack Obama has declared April ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month.'
The month has been a staple in the campaign against rape and sexual violence, and is used to create awareness throughout the country and educate American citizens on the importance of sexual assault prevention.
The Department of Defense is doing their part to help make sure service members stay educated in the matter. Each year, a different theme is chosen to encourage critical thinking and discussions on the matter between service members.
According to Marine Administrative Message 130/13, this year's DoD theme is, "We'll own it … We'll solve it … Together." According to the Maradmin, the theme reasserts that the responsibility of preventing sexual assault belongs to all Marines.
To help combat sexual assault, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is using several measures, such as banners, information kiosks, and the use of social media posts to ensure the employees of its community are armed with the knowledge to fight rape, sexual violence and other related matters.
"We've recently became a full-time job. Before, it was basic coverage and advertisement," explained Christina Chavez, the sexual assault response coordinator on MCLB Barstow. "Now that we have more time and resources available, we are going to be able to use a lot of different ways to get the word out to everyone," she added.
Chavez explained that the SAPR program plans to set up kiosks around the installation with information on sexual assault prevention. Chavez hopes to use other means as well, including a more unconventional one.
"I want to take teal-colored flags and put them in the grass outside the building of Marine and Family Services," said Chavez. "The amount of flags used will reflect the number of sexual assault cases within the Marine Corps in fiscal year 2011. We didn't have any cases on MCLB Barstow and that's good."
There were 333 cases reported in the Marine Corps, so getting the word out to people shows it's still a prevalent threat, Chavez explained.
"I'd be naïve to think nothing ever happens here on base," she said. "Something may have happened, but it was never reported. We want people to be comfortable and confident enough to come to us if anything were to happen," she added.