Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- Marines and sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's command element and Marines with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion received sexual assault prevention and response training here Aug. 14.
The Marine Corps’s Take a Stand sexual assault prevention and response course is a new bystander intervention training taught by uniformed victim advocates to Corporals and Sergeants to satisfy the annual sexual assault training requirement for noncommissioned officers
Members of the units participated in training to increase sexual assault awareness and learn how to handle sexual assault situations, said Capt. Philipp Buckhahn, the 11th MEU's sexual assault response coordinator.
According to the Department of Defense Directive, sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats intimidation, abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot give consent.
"This training is used to enlighten the audience on an issue that has been overlooked," said Buckhahn. "Marines are expected to make good moral decisions every day, even when the situation isn't always black and white, and this training teaches our junior leadership to step up in those tough situations that may lead to sexual assault and to educate their subordinates about the resources available to them if they become a victim of sexual assault."
The training included video clips featuring Marines who were victims of sexual assault. Those attending participated in discussions and role playing to make the training a fully interactive experience, said Buckhahn.
Marines and sailors put the scenarios into perspective to support the training’s reoccurring question: How do we prevent sexual assault?
Cpl. Keenan Nash, a ground radio repairman with the 11th MEU's command element, better understood his role as a noncommissioned officer after participating in the training session.
"Sexual assault is a bigger deal in the Marine Corps than I ever thought," said Nash, a 21-year-old Dallas, native. "The training helped me figure out how to identify the signs of sexual assault before it happens. If it does happen, I know, whether someone wants me to or not, that as a noncommissioned officer the first thing I should do is get them help."
Cpl. Jason Almanza, a logistics and embarkation specialist with the 11th MEU's command element, was greatly affected by the presentation of sexual assault cases and the discussions during the training.
"I liked this training because it came from people who have been through sexual assault before," said Almanza, a 22-year-old Phoenix native. "Now that I've seen the impact it has on people … I wouldn't hesitate to tell someone or to help in any way I can."