AUGUST 26, 2016, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) – 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, 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.