APRIL 22, 2016, GREAT LAKES (NNS) – As part of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM), Naval Service Training Command hosted a brief on the Neurobiology of Sexual Assault in the NSTC main conference room of Building 1 here, April 7.
Lynell Boveri, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and Kimberly Watts, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate, from the Great Lakes Naval Station Fleet and Family Support Center, provided the training. The training included a video from Dr. Rebecca Campbell, a Professor of Psychology and Program Evaluation at Michigan State University, of a presentation that was hosted by National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation agency of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D. C.
“This training discussed the research on the neurobiology of trauma and the criminal justice system response to sexual assault,” said Boveri. “Dr. Campbell explained the underlying neurobiology of traumatic events, its emotional and physical responses, and how these processes can impact the investigation and prosecution in cases of sexual assault.”
Boveri said this type of training can be helpful for “anyone who may work with a victim of sexual assault to help understand why a victim may present with behaviors that do not seem typical for someone who has been sexually assaulted.”
According to Boveri, some of these confusing behaviors that Dr. Campbell touches on are the inability of victims to remember events in proper order, unexpected lack of emotion or overemotional, not being willing to participate in the judicial process and the idea of tonic immobility.
“Tonic immobility is when a victim is unable to respond to a threat and can literally become paralyzed. The assumptions that are sometimes made by first responders can negatively impact the outcome of the legal process. Dr. Campbell clearly addressed these assumptions and helped the audience to be empathetic,” Boveri said.
NSTC’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response point of contact, Lt. Tara Smallidge, wanted staff members to know that sexual assault encompasses many aspects of people’s lives. “The educational video provides a new learning and understanding of what happens to our body during a sexual assault,” Smallidge said.
“Dr. Campbell highlighted important research explaining neurobiology of trauma and its emotional and physical manifestation. NSTC Staff members learned the unspoken impact sexual assault can have on our bodies; it’s a different way of approaching how we view sexual assault.”
Boveri said that since 2012 the focus of training in the SAPR program has been in prevention efforts.
“The Navy’s prevention strategy realizes that prevention is an ongoing effort that all Navy members are responsible for throughout the year. Here at Great Lakes we provide SAPR briefings to Naval Station Great Lakes and its tenant commands. We are involved with the Pure Praxis prevention program that comes to the installation quarterly. We are always looking for innovative and creative ways to increase awareness and provide sexual assault prevention knowledge,” she said.
On March 28, 2012 the Navy announced April as Sexual Assault and Awareness Month (SAAM) and issued guidance to focus efforts on awareness and prevention of sexual violence through the use of special events and command-level education in NAVADMIN 106/12. The Department of Defense’s SAAM theme this year is, “Hurts One, Affects All. Prevention of Sexual Assault is Everyone’s Duty.” In addition to this overarching theme, the Navy is highlighting complementary weekly themes throughout the month.
This year, Navy leaders announced on March 30 the 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) theme of “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know your part. Do your part.” (See http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=93889.)
The April awareness month is designed to build momentum for year-round efforts to eliminate the crime of sexual assault, while making sure all Sailors are treated with dignity and respect.
Boveri said during April’s SAAPM, Naval Station Great Lakes has already seen many events in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM).
“Our biggest event will be the SAPR 5K Color Run on April 27th at 4:15 p. m., starting and finishing in front of historic Building 1, Boveri said.
Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, NSTC commander, headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, and his staff oversees the OD directorate and 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development program. NSTC includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, NROTC at more than 160 colleges and universities, OTC at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.