Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis IV, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
SILVERDALE, Wash. – Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) hosted multiple events for the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Prevention and Response (SAAPR) month.
Each event emphasized a different segment of the SAAPR chart starting with a symposium from a sexual assault survivor to an appreciation ceremony for all the SAPR victim advocates of NBK and ending with the 5th Annual SAAPR Challenge.
The Founder and CEO of “H-E-A-R-T” (Hope Exists After Rape Trauma) Debbie Smith and her husband, Rob Smith, led a presentation at the Bangor Theater known as “Critical Middle” explaining the thoughts and pain of everyone involved in a sexual assault.
“A rape victim never gets over it,” said Smith. “They only learn to live with the pain.”
Smith explained in detail her experience and the multitude of emotions and pain she felt.
“At one point I found myself thinking about how I would kill myself,” said Smith. “I found myself with a gun in hand when I realized the family I would have left behind.”
Rob Smith, her husband came and explained the pain and suffering the family endured.
“I consider myself a handyman,” said Rob. “But the pain after my wife was raped, I could not fix.”
A few days after that powerful presentation, NBK hosted Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Appreciation at the Bangor Chapel.
“There are 228 credentialed unit victim advocates at NBK and its tenant commands,” said Shar Hays, Lead Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) of NBK. “To be credentialed, each advocate must complete a 40-hour initial unit victim advocate class, pass a background screening, and 32 hours of refresher training to re-qualify every two years.”
All of the victim advocates gathered to receive recognition for a very tough job.
“Victim advocates are important for victims by speaking and understanding their situation,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Molly Creelman, a victim advocate for Marine Corps Security Force Battalion Bangor. “Advocates are here to be a reliable support system for victims to go to and start the recovery process.”
Capt. Alan Schrader, commanding officer of NBK, acknowledged all the advocates of NBK with a proud ‘Thank you.’
“I’m extremely privileged to be here and acknowledge and thank our victim advocates,” said Schrader. “The services they provide our Sailors and Marines in need is invaluable.”
The following week, NBK held the 5th Annual SAAPR Challenge outside the Bangor Theater.
The challenge began with a 5k run and words from NBK Executive Officer Cmdr. Brian Rednour. The challenge consists of mini-games with a SAAPR theme.
A set of giant Jenga blocks with the rule of you can only move a block after answering a SAAPR question correctly, miniature golf, and Connect 4.
NBK also served food and refreshments during the challenge.
“Sexual Assault is a direct impact on our mission and our Sailors and Marines quality of life,” said Rednour. “This turnout illustrates the importance of supporting victims of sexual assault and prevention.”