WESTERN PACIFIC (NNS) -- Sailors kicked off the campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month aboard guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, April 3.
This year's theme "Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know Your Part. Do Your Part," promotes awareness and an effort end to sexual assault.
William P. Lawrence Sailors started the monthlong campaign by wearing blue jeans in observance of Denim Day, typically recognized on April 29.
Started in Los Angeles in April 1999, Denim Day was a silent protest to the Italian Supreme Court's overturning of a highly visible sexual assault case. Protesters wore blue jeans to defy the judges' ruling that a young woman could not have been sexually assaulted and likely aided the accused in removing her tight jeans.
Seventeen years later, William P. Lawrence Sailors continue the blue jeans campaign to fight against common sexual assault misconceptions.
"We are sending a message to young adults that no one asks to be assaulted, despite how they dress," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class (SW) Cassandra Bowden, diversity committee president.
William P. Lawrence Sailors continued another tradition the diversity committee chairman, Senior Chief Gunner's Mate Jaye Bell, introduced on board during SAAPM 2015.
After hanging a SAAPM teal flag in the hangar, Bell invited Sailors to don boxing gloves, dip them in paint and "punch out sexual assault."
He explained to the crew the inspiration behind this campaign. He told them the story of a boxer and his wife, a painter, who thought her husband's fighting was too violent and told him that she would leave if he continued to box. The boxer dipped his boxing gloves in paint, punched a canvas and gave it to her - transforming his violent sport into beautiful, love-inspired art.
"I liked the idea of taking something founded on violence and turning it into something beautiful," said Bell. "There are more than 300 people aboard, and statistically, there are some Sailors who have experienced some sort of sexual assault in their lives. I wanted to give the crew an opportunity and an outlet to create something beautiful from a violent act."
The crew later raised the flag on the mast and gathered for a photo in their denim.
William P. Lawrence Sailors know their part and are doing their part to raise awareness and prevent sexual assault. Sailors will wrap up SAAPM observations with a cake-cutting ceremony at the end of the month.
"Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right, and I am honored to serve aboard this ship where respect for one another is priority number one," said Command Master Chief Sergio H. Moreno. "Our Sailors are always looking out for one another. Sexual assault prevention is not just a one-month-per-year event at this command-it's a daily commitment."
Sexual assault awareness is an important element in the readiness of the 21st Century Sailor. As a consolidated set of objectives and policies, it aims to maximize personal readiness, build resiliency, and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy.
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific, William P. Lawrence, commanded by Cmdr. Walter C. Mainor, is operating as part of the John C. Stennis Strike Group and Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
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