FEBRUARY 15, 2017, YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) – Sailors assigned to ships and shore facilities at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka attended one of several interactive Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training sessions Feb. 14-15.
The unconventional training was conducted by Pure Praxis, an education workshop which uses improvisational theater to highlight important and sensitive topics.
Based on Augusto Boal’s “Theater of the Oppressed,” they use audience participation to confront social issues by discussing topics including bystander intervention, proactive prevention, domestic violence, re-victimization, harassment, awareness and empathy, sexism, and appreciation of diversity. The group is distinguished by its namesake “Praxis,” which they describe as putting theory into practice.
During the training, Navy Region Japan officials recognized Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Omari Horsford, assigned to Naval Munitions Command East Asia Det. Yokosuka, in front of a full theater following the Feb. 14 afternoon performance for intervening in a real-world situation and preventing what could have been a sexual assault.
Jill Loftus, Department of the Navy SAPR Office director, held an informal question-and-answer session with Sailors after the Feb. 14 afternoon performance.
During her interactions with the Sailors, she described her recent work with video game developers in bringing a more positive portrayal of female characters to the recently released, “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” which included a tour of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
Sailor feedback to the training was positive.
“The Pure Praxis troupe delivered outstanding training that enabled sailors from Fleet Activities Yokosuka to practice their intervention techniques firsthand,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class William Brown, assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan/Navy Region Japan. “I had the pleasure to attend more than one session, and the different interactions and improvs made for a unique experience every time.”
Loftus compared the new, interactive approach to SAPR training to the development of “muscle memory,” because it physically accustoms Sailors and Marines to intervening in situations far more effectively than sitting through films or briefings.
When asked her opinion of the new program’s effectiveness, Loftus cited the Sailor who was recognized for intervening.
“You wouldn’t have seen that, maybe five years ago,” she said.
She then recalled a male Sailor at a previous performance who, after being called on stage to do improvisation, felt comfortable enough to discuss while on stage his own childhood experience with a real-life sexual assault.
“Whatever penny I spent on training was worth every cent at that moment,” said Loftus. “I think [the training] makes all the difference in the world.”
From Commander, Naval Forces Japan Public Affairs