Soldiers, civilians train together, commit to protecting each other’s back
In Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response Prevention training courses, there is one overall message that should reach participants – that sexual assault and sexual harassment are wrong and will not be tolerated.
This year Soldiers and Civilians experienced that message in a fresh approach to training, in a presentation titled “Got Your Back.”
Master Sgt. Maricella Derrick, Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response Prevention, known as SHARP, installation sexual assault response coordinator, hopes the training not only gave Soldiers and Civilians a different outlook of sexual harassment and assault but changed their perspective of the problem.
“The goal for ‘Got Your Back’ is to make it relevant and interesting so people will pay attention, so they understand that the problem is still here and keep them involved in the training rather than doing the same thing that they don’t pay attention to any more,” Derrick explained.
Instead of following the usual mandated Department of Army information, participants had interactive engagement with two guest speakers from Catharsis Productions, Kristen Pickering and Orvie Baker. According to www.catharsisproductions.com, the company’s overall mission is “ to reduce interpersonal violence by producing artistically innovative and research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes, transforms behavior and inspires communities to create a world without violence.”
Adding extra perspective to the presentation, Baker let training attendees know he is Army retired with 20 years of service and shared some personal anecdotes of sexual harassment and assault perceptions when he was on active duty.
“When you talk about the Army, you’re talking about who I am, you’re talking about people who I know that do the right thing day in and day out. They’re the reason why this nation survives,” Baker said. “Somebody that comes in and pretends to be like us makes everybody look bad and this is why we can’t have a sanctuary for those … predators.”
Aside from Baker sharing his experiences, the overall premise of “Got Your Back” was to facilitate discussion on sexist language and stereotypes; healthy versus regrettable sexual encounters; sexual assault and bystander intervention.
“I think everything they addressed was very accurate, and it’s identifying issues at the unit level of what needs to be addressed,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Scheiber, Headquarters and Headquarters Company U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and SHARP training participant. “It also reinforces what is being done right now. I do like the fact that it was open to Civilians because now they’re being trained with the ability to identify these situations and help prevent this from happening as well.”
Another aspect new to the training was the feedback given during the presentation. Derrick elaborated on how the Fort Huachuca SHARP program collected suggestions on topics and how to improve upon the presentation. Attendees could also go online and take a survey to voice their opinions.
“Got Your Back” was scheduled for 23 sessions which ran Jan. 27 – Feb. 8. On average, 75 – 350 personnel attended each presentation. While the training was not mandated, it was encouraged, especially by Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, commanding general, USAICoE and Fort Huachuca.
“Major General Ashley heard about [the presentation], heard it was awesome, wanted to get it here and thought it would be good for us,” Derrick said.