MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Leaders of Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Headquarters and Support Battalion organized a comprehensive Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training session Oct. 16 and 17 at the MCB Camp Lejeune Base Theater.
The leaders defines what entails sexual assault, its impact, statistics on the subject and gave examples of the types of environments where sexual assault can fester, along with other information for the Marines present.
Bardorf spoke of his commitment to battling the problem head on and ensuring there is no “gray area” to it. He also detailed the importance of taking the training to heart and losing the “check-in-the-box” mentality, where training is viewed as an inconvenient requirement rather than an important weapon in the battle against sexual assault.
“We give you these tools, and we expect Marines to use them,” said Bardorf. “I expect you are taking the education back to the young Marines you lead. This is the change we have to start if we are going to be effective.”
Gunnery Sgt. Laura Bigley, a uniformed victim advocate with HQSPTBn, said the method of presentation introduced the Marines to key players in any response to sexual assault and let the Marines know their leadership’s commitment to ensuring a victim receives adequate support from the top down.
“The bottom line is the command will take care of victims as best as possible and simultaneously, so long as it’s an unrestricted report, will pursue all the facts involving each case and bring the perpetrator to justice,” said 1st Lt. Robert Collinsworth, commanding officer of HQSPTBn’s Company A.
In 2010, 19,000 service members were sexually assaulted, said Bardorf. Approximately 2,900 of the assaults were reported.
“To put it in perspective, it is about the size of 2nd Marine Division, can you imagine everybody in 2MARDIV being sexually assaulted? I can’t, but it’s what’s happening,” said Bardorf.
Bigley said the training can play a huge part in any of the Marines’ lives.
“You never know if you are going to be a victim or if somebody you know is going to be a victim,” said Bigley. “It’s important to know how to help.”
The battalion’s leaders, its uniformed victim advocates, the base’s sexual assault response coordinator and a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent spoke at the brief.
“Sexual assault is abhorrent,” said Bardorf. “It cannot even be fathomed by those who truly believe in honor, courage and commitment.”