Makin Island Sailors, Marines Participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) are promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in a variety of ways on the ship throughout the month of April.
In addition to prevention-based training for the crew and posters placed throughout the ship highlighting this year's theme of "Hurts One: Affect All," a unique display was constructed near the ship's mess decks to draw attention to SAAM.
The display, known as the "Clothesline Project," featured cutouts shaped like small T-shirts in various colors hanging on a clothesline. Each different color of T-shirt represented a specific type of violent act.
Black shirts represent victims of gang rape; yellow, brown and beige shirts were for assault or battery; pink, red and orange shirts represent rape or sexual assault; white shirts represent victims of murder; purple and lavender were for victims of homophobic violence; and green and blue shirts represent incest and crimes against children.
Many participants decorated their T-shirt with words of encouragement or by writing the name of a friend or family member who has been a victim of sexual violence.
"We had a much better response to this project than I was expecting," said Yeoman 1st Class Kristina Godinez, Makin Island's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) coordinator and Clothesline Project organizer. "Makin Island collected more than $950 in donations and all the proceeds will go to the Center for Community Solutions."
Godinez said the project was designed to be a voice for victims and help raise awareness among the crew that these issues are real and support the Navy's SAAM program.
"We chose the passageway near the mess decks to display the T-shirts because it is the most high-traffic area on the ship, where everyone can see and remember the victims of these crimes," said Godinez.
Sailors and Marines who participated in the Clothesline Project said the display brought much needed attention to victims of sexual assault.
"This project is a positive method of expression in remembrance of victims and survivors of sexual assault and other associated crimes," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Ashley Sopr, who volunteers as a victim's advocate for Makin Island's SAPR program. "My hope is that these visual aides serve as a reminder that those types of offenses are very real and have no preference in age, gender or race."
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department.
The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SAAM.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.