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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Marines interact with an actress during sexual assault bystander intervention training at Camp Johnson, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Jan. 28. A performance troupe named Pure Praxis visited Camp Lejeune as part of a Department of the Navy program to increase awareness about sexual assault and how bystanders can help provide support to victims.

Photo by Lance Cpl Ned Johnson

Performance troupe brings sexual assault message to Lejeune

28 Jan 2016 | Lance Cpl. Ned Johnson Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — “This is all your fault. Why did you lie?

You know he didn’t do that. You just want attention.”

            These are words a victim might hear after reporting a sexual assault, but the Department of the Navy has partnered with Pure Praxis, a performance troupe, to help change that.

            Pure Praxis travelled to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Jan. 28 and performed interactive scenarios to teach Marines and sailors how they can step up and support a service member who is a victim of sexual assault.

            “We integrate real-life scenes with actors and intersperse talking points and bring in audience members to participate in the scenes,” said Benji Kaufman, a facilitator with the troupe.

            “The audience isn’t just sitting there and listening to someone talk,” said Kaufman. “We bring them on stage and we don’t let them get away with the easy answers. We ask them the tough questions and get the tough answers.”

            One of the scenes the troupe focuses on is a female service member who reported a sexual assault and is harassed because the accused assailant was liked by members of the unit.

            “The Marines do great,” said Kaufman. “We love how they use their training and specific values to intervene. Even the young ones do great.”

            Kaufman said sexual assault is still an epidemic both in the military and in civilian society.

            “We need to change the perceptions of sexual assault and it’s all done through education,” said Col. David Jones, commanding officer, Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools. “This is just another tool we can give to the Marines.”

            The use of interaction and the believable actors worked.

            “I saw Marines stand up today and make a difference during this training,” said Shirley Stevens, the sexual assault response coordinator with MCCSSS. “They weren’t just sitting there distracted; they were paying attention and getting involved.”

Pure Praxis has been travelling to Navy and Marine Corps installations around the globe since 2014.

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