Congratulations to Christina Chavez for her selection as the Marine Corps Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) of the Year award!
SARCs play a critical role in our battle against sexual assault: they empower and assist victims, communicate and coordinate with commanders and unit leaders, train and oversee our uniformed and civilian victim advocates, and educate Marines about sexual assault. Their job does not end at close of business. They are tireless advocates who work on the front-lines to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual assault.
To honor these dedicated personnel, the DOD recognizes a SARC from each military branch every April. Nominations were sought from the field, and amid many top contenders, Chavez was chosen as this year’s Marine Corps recipient.
In 2014, Chavez was appointed as the first civilian Marine Forces (MARFOR) SARC. Since then, she has worked hard to advocate for victims of sexual assault. Chavez collaborated with the Department of Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to have MARFORCOM Marines contribute to the DONSAPRO graphic novel. She found new and innovative ways to educate Marines about sexual assault; to help make Marines more receptive to the material she taught, Chavez brought in uniformed members to assist with the train-the-trainer course in the areas of leadership and the NCO role in SAPR programs. She also took trainings a step further by using kinesthetic learning toys to appeal to all adult learners.
Chavez established the first-ever MARFORCOM Operation Clothesline Project and collaborated with MCCS to post sandwich boards on each floor of the Headquarters Building with pictures of sexual assault survivors form the 2011 Project Unbreakable, a photography project aimed at giving a voice to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. This created a frenzy of conversation and discussion about victims, their experiences, and how allies can support, encourage, and empathize with them. This is only a small portion of her achievements.
For more information on the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, click here.
The Department of Defense has kicked off its 14th annual observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) with the ongoing theme, "Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission." This year's theme emphasizes everyone, regardless of rank, can protect our mission by ensuring everyone is committed to advancing an environment where sexist behaviors, sexual harassment, hazing, bullying, and sexual assault are not tolerated, condoned, or ignored.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program is committed to ensuring anyone who has experienced a sexual assault can receive help. As such, the SAPR program aims to provide materials that ensures everyone is included in efforts. How can Marines help support this goal?
Your friend calls and tells you the unthinkable. He/she has been sexually assaulted. Consider these "Dos" and "Don'ts" when offering support to a victim.