Over the past few years the Marine Corps has taken a new approach to preventing sexual assault. In an effort to reach Marines where they spend most of their time, leaders throughout the Corps have taken to social media to educate Marines on the facts of consent and sexual assault. BGen David A. Ottignon, Commanding General of 1st Marine Logistics Group, recently spoke with the Headquarters Marine Corps SAPR team to talk about his command’s active social media presence when it comes to SAPR.
Q: Why was it important to you—as a General and leader of Marines—to get your SAPR message on Facebook/social media?
A: Social media is the domain in which this generation of Marines and Sailors readily communicate. You will be hard pressed to find a Marine or Sailor without a cell phone capable of reaching the internet. With that in mind, we felt it important to go to there so we could engage them and have them actively participate in the discussion.
Q: What is the goal of having an active social media presence regarding the topic of sexual assault?
A: What we have found is that starting a dialog on sexual assault prevention via social media increased awareness of the problem and the Marine Corps efforts to combat such behavior. Smaller sound bites with a visual (video) take away resonated with Marines and Sailors, especially when they found familiar faces in the spot. So, you mix messages and information with “video commercials” and you have a powerful tool to communicate more regularly.
Q: How does open and ongoing communication contribute to the prevention and response to sexual assault?
A: I think the more we get proactive, the better we’ll be. We’re now targeting behavior: How do we teach that so we can get left of the incident? “Can I kiss you” lectures and modeling through an MLG skit team (8 or so Marines conducting an interactive skit of how to prevent an assault) have been very powerful; these efforts, coupled with the continued social media messages, are having an effect.
To learn more about the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, click here.
Every Marine is a leader, and leaders have a responsibility to stop and prevent retaliation. We must keep the faith of those we lead and serve with.
In a special public service announcement released on April 5th on social media, Marines across the Corps show how they do their part to prevent sexual assault – not just in April, but all year long.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, there are a number of things you may want to consider doing to keep yourself safe and healthy.