In The News
Story by Tyler Hlavac
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Theater-based training that reinforces positive behaviors and encourages discussion remains one of the Navy’s top tools for battling sexual assault, a Navy official told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.
Jill Loftus, director of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said the service has seen a substantial drop in sexual assaults over the past few years. She credits some of that to Pure Praxis, a Department of Navy-contracted theater group whose performances address themes such as victim retaliation and male-on-male sexual assault.
“From 2014 to 2016, the Navy reduced their sexual incidents by 30 percent,” Loftus said. “Reporting went up 114 percent at the same time. So, both numbers in the right direction. What that tells me is people are getting the training. People understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. People understand they can report unacceptable behavior.”
The California-based theater group, which performs regularly at Navy and Marine Corps bases worldwide, is at Yokosuka this week for a series of shows addressing sexual assault and harassment. Scenarios include a sailor being ostracized by friends and peers for reporting a rape, and a sailor struggling to reconcile a childhood sexual assault with his ideas of traditional masculinity.
Half of the performances center on victim retaliation, with service members being asked to analyze the scenarios acted out in front of them.
Loftus said 130,000 sailors and Marines have attended a Pure Praxis event, and that the training is effective because the performances center on group discussion and reinforcing positive behaviors.
“We are convinced that small-groups, interactive training that’s innovative and new is what you need to teach a subject like this,” she said. “We’re trying to shift our training to emphasize the positive behaviors and what’s the positive thing to do rather than harping on the negative. I’m not convinced that telling people not to do something will ever solve any problem.”
Chief Miguel Garcia, a cryptologic technician with Task Force 70, attended a performance Wednesday and participated in a skit onstage. He said the Navy’s approach to sexual-assault training has changed during his 13 years in the service, and that Pure Praxis effectively targets junior sailors.
“[The actors’] attitude and demeanor onstage is really on point with what’s going on,” he said. “Definitely over the past three or four years it’s really changed to be more interactive. Before it was always PowerPoints. Now it’s scenarios and things people can take more from.”
Story by Randall Baucom
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — ‘Praxis’ is the act of applying, engaging and practicing ideas and it was those actions that service members and civilians from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE) and Fort Huachuca demonstrated during a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) training session held at Eifler Gym on Dec. 5.
The training, which was facilitated by Pure Praxis, a social theater group from Long Beach, Calif., used a technique known as “Theater of the Oppressed” to engage with the audience and enhance their overall understanding of how sexual harassment and assault can impact the workplace and how they can intercede to prevent sexual harassment and assault and assist those who have been effected by it.
“Pure Praxis uses the medium of theater to create social change and leverages the entertainment value that theater brings to engage people in a topic that really effects people’s lives and help them to make changes in their own lives,” said Nicole Snell, one of the performance facilitators.
“We do this by using a method created by Augusto Boal called ‘Theater of the Oppressed’ which brings audience members on the stage and participate in the performance, because you can talk at people, but until they actually try something it does quite stick with them as much.”
The hour-long performance, which centered on the treatment of a victim after a sexual assault, introduced many of the same topics that are addressed in normal SHARP training, like how to intervene when someone is displaying harassment behavior and how to assist when a victim comes to you for assistance. During segments of the performance, audience members were brought on stage to engage with the actor-advocates to show how they would deal with the different situations.
“It is extremely rewarding, you always get different responses from the audiences and sometimes you have to really work at getting them involved, but once you break through the wall and the audience sees that they have a voice, it really brings them in even though we are discussing a difficult topic,” said Snell
Sgt. 1st Class Jasmin Toulouse, the Fort Huachuca Sexual Assault Coordinator, set up the training.
“Pure Praxis was here at Fort Huachuca in January as part of a program by the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for the Marines stationed here and they received a lot of positive comments from those who participated, so I did some research and presented the opportunity to the USAICoE chain of command who wholeheartedly supported bringing the group back for a second series of performances. I hope it is something we will continue in the future.”
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bill Dodge, NSF Deveselu Public Affairs
NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY DEVESELU, Romania (NNS) – The Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Director (DON SAPRO) Ms. Jill Loftus visited Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu and Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) Romania October 9 through 11 along with members from Pure Praxis, a theater group dedicated to social change.
The visiting party consisted of Ms. Loftus along with several representatives from the Naples Regional Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness (SAPR) Office and seven cast members from Pure Praxis.
During the visit, the theater group performed for a group of over 100 Sailors and civilians assigned to both NSF Deveselu and AAMDS Romania. Their performance tied in interactive elements along with the theory and practice of SAPR.
“It is very important to be seen by the entire Navy,” said Benji Kaufman, a Pure Praxis facilitator. “There are a lot of bases that don’t always have the opportunity to see something like this; we hope that through our scenes and this interactive training the Sailors get a real-world sense of these issues that can help them in their day-to-day lives.”
Capt. Jon Grant, the commanding officer of NSF Deveselu, introduced the guests, who then performed several scenes addressing Navy-wide SAPR related issues including: the repercussions of reporting abuse, ways to intervene, reporting types and procedures, as well as societal pressures based on gender. The group took these topics and channeled them into interactive real-life scenarios.
“I really enjoyed this kind of training,” said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Myles Schumacher, assigned to NSF Deveselu. “It was very interactive, not just a slideshow or repetitive video. With the performance, it gave us a real sense of some of these scenarios and we got to see some of the emotions involved with these issues.”
After the conclusion of the performance, Grant showed his gratitude for the visit and encouraged his Sailors to appreciate the very serious message the group conveyed.
“This topic is near and dear to my heart,” said Grant. “ We have so many resources and so much support available to us in this room. These people are here to help; they stand ready to assist us at a moments notice. We have to make sure that if we are having issues we are reaching out, you have to remember, things like sexual assault are going to happen and we all need to be there as shipmates to offer support.”
The guests and cast members spent the remainder of their time in Deveselu visiting and engaging with Sailors around the two bases.
NSF Deveselu and AAMDS Romania are co-located with the Romanian 99th Military Base and play a key role in ballistic missile defense in Eastern Europe. They provide capability to the fleet, joint and allied forces through safety, security, housing, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, fleet and family services and the core services that maintain bases including: fuel, water and power.
For more information and resources about SAPR training, please visit the SAPR website at http://www.sapr.mil/.
For more information and resources about Naval Support Facility Deveselu please visit our website at
https://cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnreurafswa/installations/nsf_deveselu.html or our social media page at https://www.facebook.com/NSFDeveselu/.
Story and photo by Robert Purdy
Pacific Missile Range Facility Public Affairs
Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) and the community of Kauai welcomed Pure Praxis, an internationally recognized performance group to the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Theater in Lihue, April 13. Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, DoD civilians, students and residents of Kauai took part in interactive Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training put on by the group.
The theater group is contracted by the Department of Navy, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (DON SAPRO) and utilizes improvisational theater as a method to encourage involvement and intervention in real life social situations.
The shows are guided by audience participation, which makes every show unique and special.
The show on Kauai was unique in another way. DON SAPRO training is typically held for service members and DoD civilian audiences at military installations around the world; however, this performance opened its doors to the Kauai community and shared the experience with the public through the help of PMRF and the Kauai Community College (KCC.)
Students, residents, Sailors, guardsmen and civilians from PMRF took center stage alongside members of Pure Praxis and navigated their way through challenging real life scenarios acted out during the show.
“I was not aware that the U.S. Navy conducted training like this. I think it’s wonderful, and incredible, and honestly, I feel so much more respect and pride in the Navy for doing that because it affects everybody, not just the Navy but civilians as well. I felt a greater sense of community sitting next to the Sailors and taking this training. Loyalty from a different perspective, a sense of Ohana (family,) not just numbers and ranks but everybody united to fight for a common cause,” said Polina Goudkova, a native of Canada and volunteer with the YWCA and PAU violence on Kauai.
“I thought that this was one of the most incredible ways to bring the message across on an issue that is so prevalent everywhere in the United Sates, in Canada and all over the world about sexual harassment. I would really like to see shows like this in Canada. It’s something that needs to be talked about more. I’m very grateful that I was able to participate,” Goudkova said.
For information, visit www.secnav.navy.mil/sapro/
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy is revamping its approach to combating sexual assault in its presentation to sailors and potentially in the way it monitors the accused.
Lectures with bullet points on large screens are being sidelined in favor of actors role-playing the tough issues, as 7th Fleet sailors at Yokosuka saw Tuesday and Wednesday during programs that addressed themes like victim retaliation and male-on-male sexual assault.
Sailors participate in a sexual assault role-playing scenario, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
TYLER HLAVAC/STARS AND STRIPES
Using Pure Praxis, a California-based theater group contracted by the Navy since 2015, is more time-consuming and expensive — but also more effective, said Jill Loftus, director of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
Sailors who spoke with Stars and Stripes following the performances generally agreed that the actors gave the issues more emotional resonance.
“I’ve been in the Navy 13 years and it’s all been PowerPoint,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Roberto Coriano, a ship’s serviceman at Yokosuka’s Naval Supply Fleet Logistics Center. “Bringing [the training] on stage, it makes you think about it more. [Sailors] see the real thing on stage.
“You hear about these situations but when you see it physically it bothers you more.”
The scenarios the actors portray are realistic, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Hightower, a quartermaster aboard the USS Shiloh. Hightower said he recently intervened in an incident at an off-base club where a group of men was aggressively harassing a female.
“I like this type of training,” he said. “PowerPoints are boring; people fall asleep and they are kind of pointless. Getting involved [in the role-playing] allows people to examine how they would actually respond in a real-life scenario.”
Half of Pure Praxis’ performances center on victim retaliation, with sailors being asked to analyze retaliation scenarios acted out in front of them.
Although the Navy is seeing fewer sexual-assault incidents, victim retaliation continues to be an issue.
A 2014 RAND survey found that roughly half of all active-duty female servicemembers who reported a sexual assault believed they suffered professional or social retaliation.
“We see reports of survivors who say the worst part of reporting sexual assault is when they come back to their ship or unit and they are ostracized by their own peers and friends,” Loftus said.
Retaliation and social ostracism plays a possible role in the rise of restricted sexual-assault reports.
With a restricted report, the names of the victim and accuser are kept confidential, allowing the victim to receive treatment without triggering a legal response toward the assailant.
The Navy’s 2015 report on sexual assault, the service’s most recent report, showed a 25 percent increase in restricted reports not converted into unrestricted ones, where authorities investigate the crime.
Loftus attributes this to better Navy training in recent years encouraging more sailors to report sexual assaults they survived prior to joining the service. Servicemembers are keeping the report restricted to avoid implicating a friend or family member, she said.
However, the Navy is considering a change — pending legal review — to the restricted reporting system that could preserve victim anonymity while giving the service a better chance of spotting serial predators.
Following a restricted report, an alleged assailant’s name would be placed in a database for future tracking, Loftus said.
GREAT LAKES (NNS) — Theater-style scripted scenarios and audience participation from Training Support Center (TSC) students added a unique and memorable change from lecture-style training for those who attended Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) events Feb. 7-9.
“Pure Praxis is a social justice theatre group dedicated to cultural change,” said Matt Gardner, program administrator for Pure Praxis. “The show is focused on sexual assault prevention and retaliation prevention following a sexual assault. It instills social change, encouraging people to act and step in to difficult situations, standing up for survivors and for those in need of help.”
The Long Beach, California-based social theater group called Pure Praxis, contracted by the Department of Defense and the Navy’s Office of Sexual Assault and Prevention, worked hands on with the audience covering sexual assault topics including re-victimization, harassment, awareness, and empathy.
“SAPR training throughout the ranks is vitally important,” said Capt. Mark Meskimen, commanding officer of TSC. “We (Navy) need to eliminate and bring awareness to the impacts of sexual assault. It all starts with training and informing individuals what sexual assault is.”
SAPR training is meant to educate Sailors on the role their decision-making has on sexual assault prevention. SAPR also aims to help members understand the reporting options available to victims of sexual assault, as well as where to go for help.
“When students initially arrive at TSC, they get a lot of intervention and SAPR training,” said Navy Military Training Instructor (NMTI) Chief Fire Controlman Daniel Erickson, SAPR command liaison for TSC. “Throughout the year we also hold additional training. The method that this training is presented gets the Sailors more interested and involved than just a petty officer or chief standing in front of a crowd lecturing.”
The scenario portrayed by Pure Praxis depicted Sailors reacting to a reported sexual assault between shipmates. Sailors are first observers, then are introduced into the situation. After the scenario the narrator asked for suggestions of what could be done during the situation which was acted out, and then those Sailors were brought on stage to enact their answers.
“Training provides some of the critical tools to reduce sexual assault and promote a culture of respect and professionalism within TSC and our Navy as a whole, where each member is motivated to intervene and stop this crime,” Meskimen said.
For more news from Training Support Center, Great Lakes, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/tscgl/
Written by Andrew Revelos
It was not your typical Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Training. Rather than the usual computer-based training, or in-person training presenting the same scenarios as the computer training, Sailors and employees at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren were treated to an engaging performance from Pure Praxis, a social theater group that supports the Department of the Navy SAPR Office.
The group performed Sept. 8 at the Base Theater, the Fitness Center and the AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) with the same goal: promote positive change across the Navy by recreating some very difficult, very realistic scenarios and allowing the audience to practice being an active bystander. It is a message Pure Praxis is bringing to audiences across the Navy, reaching more than 56,000 Sailors in 2015 alone.
The scenario the group presented to NSF Dahlgren centered on the fallout of a fictional sexual assault within a fictional Navy command. Actors not only portrayed the situation from several perspectives, including that of the victim and bystanders, but also the emotions that can arise in such a situation, such as feelings of powerlessness, betrayal and anger. The performance also examined gender roles and how they affect our views on sexual assault.
“What we want you to see here is how societal expectations and rules can affect [the willingness] of a survivor to come forward, whether they are male or female, and see how much courage it takes to tell their story,” said Briza Covarrubias, actor and social media coordinator for Pure Praxis. “We want you to support them in any way that you can, whether it is to give them a shoulder to lean on or a listening ear.”
Facilitators challenged the audience to stop the performance when they saw something wrong and offer a better course of action. Without giving away too much of the plot, one of the biggest issues faced by the fictional victim was being ostracized by shipmates. What would Sailors or Navy employees do if they were presented with such a situation in real life?
For Yeoman 2nd Class Tyrone Powell, assigned to Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP), the answer was clear. “He threatened her,” Powell said, describing how one actor portrayed his displeasure toward the victim “rocking the boat” with her report.
The portion of the scenario touched on one of the many themes presented by Pure Praxis: survivors shouldn’t have to prove their own innocence when reporting a crime.
“It’s one of the reasons that sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes,” said Covarrubias.“It’s a social issue, but it is a crime.”
Victim-blaming is a common problem across society when it comes to preventing sexual assaults and a sub plot within the performance were struggles of a passive bystander still suffering as a victim of sexual assault himself. As the plot advanced, Powell and other Sailors were then given the chance to actually practice their responses by joining in the on-stage drama as active participants.
Becoming active participants in the fight against sexual assaults was of course one of the big lessons offered by Pure Praxis.
“We want to leave you with the Navy’s Core Values,” said Nicole Snell, program and content administrator for Pure Praxis. “They’re not just words; they’re standards that Sailors and Marines live by. We want you to honor your brothers and sisters by standing up for them. We want you to have the courage to safely intervene and we want you to make the moral and ethical commitment today to do so, so that we can all prevent reprisal and retaliation, ostracism and maltreatment. When we do that we become a united force.”
By Patrick Gordon NAS Patuxent Public Affairs
During Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training at Naval Air Station Patuxent River Sept. 7, military and civilian personnel at Pax learned about SAPR techniques to prevent sexual assault, and how to help those who have been affected by it. But unlike most training sessions, there were no slides, videos, or lectures. Instead, actors played the parts of Sailors dealing with the effects of a sexual assault at their notional command. Even more noteworthy was the fact that audience members played a large role in the performance.
The training was given by Pure Praxis, a social theater group contracted through the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office that uses performance education workshops to train and empower service members at military installations worldwide. Their mission is to promote social change by using live, improvisational theater to recreate difficult real-world situations so audiences can rehearse proactive responses.
The group tours world-wide in support of the DoD’s SAPR program, and is currently on a tour of Naval District Washington installations.
“We want to make sure all of our Sailors and Marines are safe, and when they are safe, then they can accomplish their mission of protecting the country at home and overseas,” said Willie Fortes, an actor with Pure Praxis. Fortes said the interactive nature of the training helps to drive home the lessons of SAPR training because participants get to act out suggestions as to how to deal with various SAPR scenarios.
“I think this type of participatory training is helpful because everybody loves narratives; we love to see movies, watch TV, read books, and watch plays because there’s a narrative,” said Fortes. “When there’s a narrative, we’re able to see characters and observe their situations, and because we’re not a part of them we’re unbiased. We are stepping outside of the situation and seeing what’s happening. So what the audience is able to do is watch these real-life scenarios occurring, generate ideas about that performance, and then when they leave this theater they can apply it to their own life and apply it to the real world.”
The scene acted out on stage by the actors concerned a group of Sailors in the aftermath of a sexual assault committed by one of their friends on another. The opinions and actions of the characters varied greatly, and audience members were encouraged to offer their suggestions on how they would have dealt with the same scenarios. Those who offered suggestions were then asked to join the actors on stage to put their suggestions into action in the scene.
Fortes said the goal of bringing audience members onstage is to instill in them the importance of action when it comes to SAPR, while also being careful not to make the participants feel too embarrassed.
“It’s important [not to embarrass participants] because it’s never easy to be on stage,” said Fortes. “Every time the actors are up on stage we’re putting ourselves out there, and the audience can either accept us or throw rotten tomatoes. So we especially don’t want any of the service members we include in the show to feel that way. We want them to feel like they can be safe and express themselves and have fun on stage without judgment, but we also want them to be receptive to what we have to say, and embarrassing someone is not the way the way to do that.”
Fortes said this interactive approach can be more effective than a lecture or straightforward presentation, because it involves individuals in front of their coworkers, shipmates, and friends.
“It’s not just a group of random civilians coming in to give training, it’s a group of civilians coming in to facilitate Sailors and Marines training one another,” said Fortes. “That’s what’s important; I can come in and tell these people ‘do this, don’t do that.’ But is that really going to be as powerful as their buddy next to them raising their hand and saying, ‘As a Sailor or Marine I don’t think we should conduct ourselves this way.’ I think that’s much more powerful — to hear from your peer group the standards that you believe your organization has set for yourselves.”
Those in attendance also thought the audience participation helped to drive home the teachings of the Navy’s SAPR program.
“When most Sailors attend any presentation, show, and/or training involving sexual assault, we are usually expecting a dark, semi-dull lecture explaining the same information over and over again. This was the complete opposite,” said Naval Aircrewman Operator 2nd Class (NAWS/AW) Cylia Cruz, with VX-20. “I received positive comments back from coworkers saying they were thoroughly impressed and really enjoyed the show. The pauses throughout the show to get the audience involved were an excellent idea.”
For more information on the Navy’s SAPR program visit www.sapr.navy.mil.
ROTA, Spain (NNS) — Service members and civilians assigned Commander, U.S. Naval Activities Spain gathered in the base theater Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 to engage in an unorthodox Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training demonstration presented by Pure Praxis, a social theater group.
Pure Praxis travels to military installations worldwide to promote their mission of social change using live, improvisational theater to re-create difficult real world situations so audiences can rehearse proactive responses.
Facilitators engage the audience by asking questions and involving them with the actors on stage to demonstrate among peers how difficult situations can be resolved.
“The purpose of this training is to come at the topics of retaliation, bullying, ostracism and sexual assault prevention in a different way,” said Timothy Maurer, the senior program manager of Pure Praxis. “A lot of times Sailors get that power point and what we try to do is present it in a new, powerful way that embodies the solution.”
Pure Praxis performs situations that are both complex and sensitive for service members to become active bystanders in their own lives. Every show differs with the answers and participation the audience provides creating a unique training lesson.
“Praxis is a Latin word,” said Kelley Ristow, one of the facilitators of Praxis, “means ‘intersection between theory and practice.’ The idea today is we’re going to bring the theory, the technique but you all bring the ideas. Together we can make something that’s unique, that’s never been done before and that will never be done again in this space today.”
Maurer said that even though there is a lesson format in place, the audience makes the lesson affective because of what they bring to the show and how they are impacted.
“I can guarantee you that they’re going to leave here today talking about what they saw, talking about the jokes and talking about the topic most importantly,” said Maurer. “It’s going to stay in their mind. For me, knowing that I am being of service to the men and women who dedicate their lives to serving our country is something I am very proud to be a part of.”
Pure Praxis was founded by Kelly Pfleider in Long Beach, California. Praxis is an action oriented activity defined as the act of applying, engaging and practicing ideas.
Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for Commander, Navy Installations Command in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia.
For more news from Naval Station Rota, Spain, visit http:/www.navy.mil/local/rota/.
By Donna Cipolloni NAS Patuxent River Public Affairs
The definition of the word praxis is “The act of engaging, applying, realizing and practicing ideas” — and that’s exactly what Pure Praxis is all about.
Different from standard Sexual Assault and Prevention Response (SAPR) training, Pure Praxis uses live, improvisational theater to recreate complicated, sensitive real-world scenarios and gives the audience an opportunity to rehearse bystander intervention and assertive communication strategies that are key to sexual assault prevention.
“We never embarrass anyone,” said Tim Maurer, Pure Praxis program administrator. “We encourage audience members who want to come onstage to come up and practice intervention tactics. Our performers and facilitators have all been through victim advocacy training and we’re knowledgeable on the topic.”
During the training, the audience is asked to brainstorm ideas and create a positive solution to a negative situation; thereby learning useful, creative and safe practices in the process.
Ensign Gregory Myers, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 in Norfolk, Virginia, was with NAS Patuxent River’s Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 last year when the troupe gave its first performance at the installation’s Center Stage Theater. He participated on stage in a scenario dealing with de-escalation tactics.
“They randomly asked if I’d be willing to go on stage and my scene involved a man at a bar with an intoxicated woman,” Myers said. “She was displaying obvious signs — slurred speech, disorientation, and witnesses saw her doing multiple shots in a short amount of time. When she left to go to the bathroom, the man commented to friends that he was going to ‘get lucky’ that night.”
Myers explained that the method he chose to de-escalate the situation was a distraction technique.
“Prior to the woman returning to the bar, I engaged the man in a debate about his favorite football team; criticizing them and saying mine was better,” he said. “That brought his attention away from the woman long enough for the bartender to call her a cab.”
Lt. Mark Stanfield, Search and Rescue pilot at Pax River, also agreed to participate and enjoyed the interactive training, which was presented in a way that showcased how different people brought up on stage reacted to the same situation in varying ways.
“It’s beneficial because it’s very different from traditional, one-sided mandatory training that everyone knows so well,” said Stanfield, who has been a volunteer SAPR Victim Advocate since 2012. “I appreciated it for its novel approach to teaching us important lessons about sexual assault. I want to do everything I can to help people who face these horrifying circumstances, and hope that others feel similarly. It’s valuable information.”
In May, the DoD released its Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for Fiscal Year 2015. Overall, sexual assault reporting remained consistent with the high levels seen in recent years. The report noted that the department received a total of 6,083 reports of sexual assault for allegations involving service members. In addition, climate survey results indicated that over 16,000 service members intervened in situations they believed to be at risk for sexual assault.
“Our leaders must continue to foster a climate of dignity and respect where men and women are empowered to intervene to help others and where all allegations of inappropriate behavior are treated with the utmost seriousness,” said Army Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, director of the Department of Defense SAPR Office. “Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less.”
The FY15 annual report on sexual assault is available online at at www.sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports.
GREAT LAKES (NNS) — Students and Staff at Training Support Center (TSC) attended a unique Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training utilizing an interactive presentation technique given by a theater group with a passion for social change Aug. 1-3.
The Long Beach, California,-based group called Pure Praxis, contracted by the Department of Defense and the Navy’s Office of Sexual Assault and Prevention, worked interactively with the audience on sexual assault topics including re-victimization, harassment, awareness and empathy.
“SAPR training is an extremely important and relevant topic to Sailors; telling them that sexual assault does happen, but if they see it happen they will have the tools to help stop it,” said Chief Damage Controlman Jeremy Hardnack, the SAPR command liaison for TSC. “Not only stop it in a bystander instance or if they have a friend that has been sexually assaulted and comes to you in confidence, you need to know what resources are available to them. This is a very important topic that our chain of command, and the Navy, takes it seriously.”
The scenario that was acted out by Pure Praxis depicted Sailors reacting to a reported sexual assault between shipmates. Sailors are first observers then are introduced into the situation. After the scenario the narrator asked for suggestions of what could be done during the situation that was acted out, and then those Sailors were brought on stage to enact their answers.
“The training was very useful; it kept the audience interested,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Alejandro Castillo. “Instead of going through a lesson plan, acting it out showed us a situation someone can be put in. Through interaction it gave examples of what we can do through intervention and making sure our shipmate feels safe reporting an assault. As reported during the presentation, a large percentage of those that do report they were sexually assaulted feel like they were retaliated against for making a report; that is just not acceptable. If you see someone in need of help, help them out.”
For more news from Training Support Center, Great Lakes, visit www.navy.mil/local/tscgl/.
PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) — Students assigned to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station engaged in interactive Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training in the chapel at Naval Air Station Pensacola’s Corry Station, July 26-27.
NAS Pensacola’s SAPR team at Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) arranged for workshops with Pure Praxis, a socially adaptive theater group contracted by the Department of the Navy’s SAPR office. The actors use improvisational theater to encourage involvement and intervention in real-world situations.
“The training provided to our IWTC staff and students was not your typical SAPR general military training, but rather an empowerment training for service members of all pay grades,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Bryan Hamel, SAPR point of contact for IWTC Corry Station. “Our students walked away from the training with new tactics on combating reprisal and condemnation. They learned they have a voice that can change lives.”
Throughout the performances, Navy, Army and Air Force students were asked to give their thoughts on the situations portrayed and occasionally joined Praxis actors on stage to show how they would respond to potentially harmful behavior by fellow service members.
“I thought the training was both informative and appealing,” said Seaman Apprentice Felix Castillo, who actively participated in the training performance. “We got to see firsthand what could potentially happen when you step in and learn what techniques work best for you.”
Anne Ballensinger, sexual assault response coordinator for FFSC, said they hosted a total of nine shows in three locations over three days, including NAS Pensacola, Naval Hospital Pensacola and Corry Station.
“Events like this increase individual and collective awareness about how we can support survivors of sexual assault,” said Ballensinger. “This focus on recognizing retaliation, reprisal, and ostracism and the active participation in how to intervene in these situations that our service members practiced during these shows is what is needed for more survivors to come forward.”
Cassandra Babcock, a Pure Praxis actor-advocate, said that engaging in the topic of sexual assault as a conversation rather than a lecture helps to break down the taboo surrounding the subject and allows for more open communication about what can be done to prevent sexual assault and improve advocacy for victims.
“The interactive aspect of the training is key to its success,” said Cmdr. Christopher Eng, commanding officer of IWTC Corry Station. “By immersing the junior Sailors into the scenarios with the actors, it tested their techniques and allowed everyone to evaluate their approach to the situation.”
Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of training to Navy and joint service personnel that prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.
For more news from Center for Information Warfare Training enterprise, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cid/, http://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ceninfodom/, http://www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or http://www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.
For more news from Center for Information Dominance, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cid/.
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher S. Haley, Commander, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo
SASEBO, Japan (NNS) –Sailors, Master Labor Contractors, and civilian employees aboard Commander U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo attended and participated in a performance by Pure Praxis on July 21 and 22, 2016. The interactive training focused on bystander intervention and how sexual assault survivors are treated.
Pure Praxis is a social theater group that uses performance education workshops to empower service members and provide the skills necessary to become active bystanders.
“Our premise is based on the Brazilian technique called theater of the oppressed,” said Nicole Snell, “It’s a technique of getting the audience involved in the actual performance to create social change.”
Because many sexual assaults go unreported, statistics with sexual assault aren’t considered to be accurate. The numbers that are used are only the numbers that are reported. In the military, anonymous surveys show that males are more often the victims than females, however, reports of sexual assault don’t match the anonymous surveys. Because of this, the Navy is actively working to foster command climates in which every member feels comfortable coming forward.
“Personally, I think the Navy is way ahead of the problem compared to the civilian sector,” said Lt. Nicole Scherer, Commander, Naval Region Japan, Commander, Naval Forces Japan SAPR officer. “Every unrestricted report is taken seriously and is required to be investigated, and civilians don’t even have the equivalent of a restricted report.”
Pure Praxis is sponsored by the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office and travels to different bases around the world to provide their training performances. The Navy is moving away from PowerPoint presentations and looking for alternative training strategies to reach Sailors. According to Scherer, the SAPR Office and Pacific Fleet are making investments in training as part of the resilient workforce campaign.
“Interactive training like Pure Praxis or ‘Can I Kiss You?’ is a huge investment, but well worth it if the training resonates with the audience in a way that computer-based training can’t,” said Scherer. “Effective training is an investment in people, and our Sailors are our most valuable asset.”
Pure Praxis has 32 total employees that travel in groups of eight. Each group is comprised of a program manager, two facilitators, and five actors. A team travels to approximately two to three different locations a month, and performances are held one to three times every day while there. Kelly Pfleider, company president and founder, lead the team that visited Sasebo.
“One of the positive comments I heard about Pure Praxis at CFAS was that the training was, ‘right up there with Shipboard Firefighting training,’” said Scherer. “It’s important, it’s hands-on, and because of that its training that you won’t forget easily.”
JINHAE, Republic of Korea (NNS) — Service members and civilians stationed throughout the Republic of Korea are attending interactive Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training while the Pure Praxis theater group visits the peninsula, June 20-23.
While contracted by the Department of the Navy’s SAPR office, more than 1,300 members from each branch of service are experiencing the socially adaptive performance group during shows in Seoul, Osan, and Jinhae.
“I’ve been through a lot of SAPR training in my days,” said Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea. “I was at one of the performances this week [in Seoul] and the performance was simply the best I’ve ever seen.”
According to the group, it uses “improvisational theater to rehearse for difficult life situations so the audience can practice positive, creative, and safe solutions”.
“We want this to resonate,” said Kelly Pfleider, Pure Praxis founder and president. “We want people to walk out of this training, hear something inappropriate, and know they should act.”
Pure Praxis uses their interactive workshops to confront social issues like sexual assault by discussing topics including bystander intervention, proactive prevention, domestic violence, re-victimization, harassment, awareness and empathy, sexism and appreciation of diversity.
“For me, today was about making a culture shift,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Frank F. Gordon Jr., assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East, Detachment Chinhae. “It is about learning and appreciating what others are going through and helping them heal. It is about empowering victims and witnesses with the tools to prevent and respond to sexual assaults.”
For more information and resources about SAPR training, please visit the SAPR website at http://www.sapr.mil/.
Navy Takes a Stand Against Sexual Assault
Release Date: June 8, 2016
NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — The Navy is taking a stand against sexual assault among the ranks. It wasn’t some boring power point presentation. But an interactive, theatrical performance, all designed to teach sailors how to help themselves, and their shipmates.
Department of Defense data shows that assaults on service members went from 2,800 in 2007 to 6,100 in 2014. The number of reported sexual assaults in 2015 was largely the same.
Captain Chuck Marks of U.S. Fleet Forces is confident programs like the one on display Wednesday at Naval Station Norfolk can help.
“We have two different types of training in the Navy,” said Marks. “Training that generates skill sets, and then training that is looking to drive cultural change. So this kind of event is a culture change event.”
Various dating and social interaction scenarios were played out for hundreds of sailors. The idea was to help them make better decisions, to understand consent and respect, and to know when intervention should take place.
The performers were members of a Long Beach, California social theater group called Pure Praxis, contracted by the Department of Defense and the Navy’s Office of Sexual Assault and Prevention. Since 2015, the group has reached more than 37,000 military personnel.
That’s why we love bringing the audience members up, because it makes it a more real-life scenario for them,” said actor Ashley Quin.
Facilitator Benji Kaufman agreed. “The thing that makes us feel good is, we want to at least change one person’s mind,” he said.
Lead facilitator Nicole Snell said small acts can make a big difference.
“It can be something as simple as asking a question, making a joke, distracting somebody, offering someone, ‘hey, I’m here for you if you need it.,'” she said. “Just that one small thing can mean the world to somebody and change their life.”
Today’s performance at Naval Station Norfolk was one of nine over three days at various Hampton Roads Navy facilities.
Ironically, it came one day before a troubling Navy sexual assault case heads to court.
According to the “Navy Times”, an unnamed chief petty officer was assigned to the U-S-S Theodore Roosevelt last year, when he allegedly raped a female sailor in an office on the ship.
At the time, that carrier was based out of Hampton Roads. Tomorrow, he’s set to have an Article 32 hearing in Norfolk. That is the military equivalent of a grand jury. The chief is now assigned to the U-S-S George Washington, which is in Hampton Roads for maintenance.
Pure Praxis Comes to NAS Sigonella
Release Date: March 27th, 2016
NAS SIGONELLA, Sicily – On March 14, Sailors aboard NAS Sigonella were treated to a performance by Pure Praxis, a social theater group that uses performance education workshops to empower service members and provide the skills necessary to become active bystanders. The team is comprised of skilled and diverse performance facilitators and actor-advocates who explore complex and relevant topics through live, improvisational theater to engage the audience.
This particular performance explored the ostracization and retaliation experienced by victims in the aftermath of a sexual assault. “I think it was a welcomed change from the traditional PowerPoint GMT,” said PO2 Daniel Paez. “This performance really hit home – the language, the scenarios, they make you believe that it is something that could really happen.”
Each performance is guided by the audience’s participation thereby making each show unique. “We present a scenario and allow the audience to engage with us. Then we bring them up on stage to have them actually rehearse these skills which allows them to feel those emotions and get that practice,” explained Nicole Snell, assistant program administrator.
“We get such positive feedback from people regarding our shows. We’ve had people come forward and report a sexual assault after seeing our training because they felt empowered. We provide a safe space to practice these skills,” said Snell.
Contracted in 2015 by the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office (DON-SAPRO), Pure Praxis has reached over 21,000 military personnel to date. The social theater group performed three shows during their visit to NAS Sigonella.
SUBBASE Honors SAAPM
Story and photos by MC3(SW) Erin Hamilton Release Date: March 4th, 2016
GROTON, Conn. – Sailors and civilians from Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) worked together to spread awareness as they observed Sexual Assault Awareness Prevention Month (SAAPM), throughout the month of April.
For 2016, the SAAPM theme, “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know your part. Do your part,” focused on raising awareness and highlighting sexual assault prevention with an emphasis on education about reporting, removing barriers and stigma associated with reporting assaults, and improving personnel management practices and procedures to ensure Sailors are in the best possible position to succeed within the ranks.
“Awareness for all Sailors, regardless of rank, is very important,” said Deb Drucker, SUBASE command Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC). “Sailors need to be aware of who they can go to in the event that they need help, advice or disclose a sexual assault.”
Navy Team New London kicked off SAAPM with events ranging from tying teal ribbons throughout the base, presentations from Pure Praxis and Department of Defense Safe Helpline, a vigil honoring survivors, as well as softball and basketball tournaments.
“The response from Sailors was great and the dialogue was fantastic,” said Paul Rico, a Pure Praxis facilitator. “They were open to talk about assault and their perception and feelings about situations specific to them.”
Additional SAAPM events included outreach tables and a luncheon in honor of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) victim advocates. Drucker noted that the SAAPM campaign was successful and education continues throughout the year, not just in April.
“Here at SUBASE, we are very proactive in making sure that every Sailor knows they can feel at ease about coming forward and making a report,” said Drucker. We understand that every case is different and every individual is different. The goal of the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy is to make sure that every Sailor is comfortable in coming forward regardless of their reporting option.”
Across the Navy, SAAPM engages Sailors and civilians up and down the deck-plates to keep the focus on preventing sexual assault and supporting those impacted.
“Eliminating sexual assault requires more than words, zero-tolerance requires an all-hands effort,” said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson in a press release. “I want to continue to confront this scourge in our workforce. Until we go to zero we can never be satisfied.”
Since the Navy’s inception of the Sexual Assault Victim Intervention (SAVI) program in 1994, the Navy has continued to develop the program.
For further information about SAPR outreach and events, contact Deb Drucker, SARC, at (860) 694-2791 or Shannon Ramsey, Professional Victim Advocate, at (860) 694-2233.
Sailors Engage Interactive SAPR Training
Story Number: NNS160307-22Release Date: 3/7/2016 4:38:00 PM
ANTONIO (NNS) — Sailors from Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Lackland learned about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) while interacting and observing the Pure Praxis social theater group, Feb. 23.
Pure Praxis is a socially adaptive performance group contracted by the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Office.
The group delivers a creative and unique workshop to encourage and motivate members to take a stand, become involved and intervene in potentially destructive behavior situations.
“The scenarios were real-world events that could actually happen, which made it easier to relate to the performers and know what to do if faced with a similar situation,” said Utilitiesman 2nd Class Jonathan Cox, NTTC Lackland master-at-arms “A” school student.
Chief Master-at-Arms Brent Ransome, NTTC Lackland master-at-arms “A” school instructor, described the training as a great approach to bringing sexual assault issues to light in a way that one will never forget.
Students took the stage alongside Pure Praxis actors to show how they would stand up for their shipmates.
As an active participant reenacting a scenario, Steelworker 2nd Class Joseph Sanchez, a student at NTTC Lackland master-at-arms “A” school said, “The training was by far the best I have received and it provides junior Sailors with a chance to see active bystander intervention first hand.”
“This topic is an incredibly important one that affects everyone,” said Pure Praxis actor-advocate, Matt Gardner. “It is important to get the message out there rather than try to deal with it in a passive manner. It’s an important conversation we need to have.”
The goal of the Department of the Navy is to eliminate situations of sexual harassment and sexual assault from its ranks. This is achieved through a balanced focus on education, advocacy, and just adjudication, which promotes professionalism, respect and trust.
The Center for Security Forces is the parent command for Naval Technical Training Center Lackland. The Center provides specialized training to more than 20,000 students each year. It has 14 training locations across the U.S. and around the world where training breeds confidence.
For more information about the Center for Security Forces, visit us at http://www.navy.mil/local/csf.
Sailors from Naval Station Mayport got a chance to look at sexual assault awareness training in a new way, by putting themselves into the trainer’s position.
Sponsored by Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), the Sailors were introduced to the socially adaptive performance group, Pure Praxis. The “edutainment” group is made up of a team of trained facilitators and actor-educators who recreate difficult scenarios based on Theater of the Oppressed (TO). TO is is a participatory theater that fosters interaction among the audience and actors.
Up on stage during the performance, the actors begin playing out a shipboard scenario featuring a group of friends and how they react when one of their own reports she has been raped by a fellow shipmate. As the scenes progress, the audience is brought into the scene first by asking the audience to describe what they are seeing on stage and then later to play it out. Several Sailors joined the scenes to play out their own versions of positive active bystander techniques.
The result of the session was fantastic, said Kelly Pfleider, founder of Pure Praxis. “We were blown away by this performance. This has been a very participating group.”
Pfleider said said the great thing about using this technique is it gives the audience a chance to practice what they have been taught by the Navy.
“They learn they can use their skills to adapt to situations,” she said.
It creates conflict that is dissected and then readdresses the problem by looking for solutions.
Pure Praxis has been working with the Department of the Navy since 2010. The traveling performance group’s charter is to use their acting talents to increase awareness and understanding of critical social issues such as sexual assault prevention, domestic violence, bystander intervention, and sexual harassment. The group held two sessions at Naval Station Mayport, reaching approximately 400 Sailors Friday.
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Benjamin Stevens, Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa Public Affairs.
Release Date: 1/13/2015
CAMP SHIELDS, Okinawa, Japan – (Jan. 13, 2015) – Sailors from Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa (CFAO) and local tenant commands gathered on Camp Shields Naval Facility Okinawa to participate in Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training, Jan. 13, presented by the Pure Praxis social theater group.
Pure Praxis works directly with the Department of the Navy’s SAPR office to deliver interactive workshops to Sailors. The workshops encourage and motivate audience members to take a stand on sexual assault through direct involvement in scenarios, educating them on intervention and prevention, and achieving a positive cultural change.
Kelly Pfleider, the founder and CEO of Pure Praxis said the goal of the group is to serve people and advocate for social justice on difficult issues such as sexual assault, and takes learning about these situations a step further because of the direct participation with the audience.
“Being able to participate helped make the training more effective and taught me a lot of things I didn’t know for when different situations arise,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Sadilee Brown, assigned to CFAO Air Operations. “It was the best training I’ve had on sexual assault because of the active participation.”
The Sailors watched actors perform complicated scenarios involving sexual assault in which the Sailors could stop the outcome of the scenario when there was the need to intervene. These Sailors would then come up on stage and help reenact the same scenarios to achieve a more positive outcome.
The interactivity helped empower the audience to stop a situation which may result in a sexual assault during the performance. It also provided some tools that they could use in a real-world situation.
“It was better than the boring power point, it was very energetic,” said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Edward Knox of CFAO Security.
Pure Praxis held two performances at Camp Shields, transforming a ballroom into a stage at the base’s Crow Nest club dining facility.
For more information and resources on SAPR training, please visit the SAPR website at http://www.sapr.mil.
By MC3 Madailein Abbott, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs
Release Date: 12/13/2015 9:17:00 PM
SINGAPORE (NNS) — Sailors and Department of Defense (DoD) personnel assigned to Navy Region Singapore took a creative approach to learning about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Dec. 11, through their observations and interaction with the Pure Praxis performing arts group.
Pure Praxis is a socially adaptive performance group that emphasizes scenario-based audience participation as part of their presentations on SAPR and other social issues. Their scenarios compel audience members to make decisions based on what is happening, motivating people to see all sides of a given situation and to educate them from their experience.
“It was quite engaging,” said Kathy Vail, the Family Service Office director for Navy Region Singapore. “It’s up to all of us to watch out for each other, civilian and military alike, and I think this kind of training helps us to be more sensitive to that.”
The traveling performance group’s charter is to use their acting talents to increase awareness and understanding of critical social issues such as sexual assault prevention, domestic violence, bystander intervention, and sexual harassment.
Navy Counselor First Class Rhonda Aubert, assigned to Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, described the Pure Praxis performance as educational and unique from SAPR training she has attended in the past.
“It was interesting to see how the people from the audience reacted with the scenario,” Aubert said. “I think overall it was extremely beneficial in making everyone more confident if they find themselves in a similar situation.”
Pure Praxis performs at military installations around the world; however, this was their first opportunity to train with Sailors in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
“It’s been really great being able to come out here and perform,” said Cortez Johnson, one of the Pure Praxis members. “I’ve never been out to this part of the world. Being able to come out here and help Sailors with SAPR awareness and training is a real honor.”
The Pure Praxis performance coincided with the visit to Singapore by Ms. Jill Loftus, Director, Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (DON SAPRO). She serves as the Secretary of the Navy’s principal point of accountability for all sexual assault policy matters and as the primary resource for expert SAPR assessment, program support and oversight. Loftus attended the Pure Praxis performance and met with Navy Region Singapore leaders to discuss the Navy’s latest SAPR initiatives.
“People think they know what they would do if someone needed help, but you never really know until you’re there, until it’s happening to you,” said Aubert. “Everyone needs to be ready to stand up and help if something is wrong, and this training is such an important motivator for that kind of positive action.”
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak
Release Date: 11/6/2015
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii (NNS) — Military service members and civilian employees gathered at the Camp H.M Smith Fitness Center to participate in a debut proactive training, presented by Pure Praxis group, Nov. 4.
The theme of the training was “Retaliation, Ostracism and Maltreatment.” Pure Praxis is a socially adaptive performance group contracted by the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office to deliver a creative and unique workshop that encourages and motivates members to take a stand, become involved and accomplish changes that they desire.
“Our training involves the audience and focuses on creating solutions to problems we put on a display,” said Nicole Snell, program and content administrator for Pure Praxis. “During the training, we ask our audience to brainstorm ideas and to change the outcome of the situation to a positive one. This is a practice audience members can use in the future.”
In previous trainings, Snell said she noticed audience members weren’t afraid to stand up for “what is right,” and was surprised by how many solutions they would come up with to show they were supporting each other’s ideas.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “People came to us after the show and [told] us how much they enjoyed the training.”
Many audience members praise the performance group and the exercise.
“This training was very powerful,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Israel Rosa. “I really liked how the actors engaged with us, especially the junior enlisted audience members.”
The corpsman said he enjoyed the way the actors portrayed the characters because the audience could really relate to them. Rosa introduced a scene where a male actor played a victim of a sexual assault.
“The males in the audience were able to recognize the struggles he had to go through as a male victim,” Rosa added.
The Pure Praxis group is raising awareness about victims of sexual assault by involving its audience members in the event through proactive training.
“It was the best SAPR training I have received to date,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jesus Claudio. “Great interaction between the troupe and the audience.”