Sailors and Marines from around the fleet have been attending a unique training session on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) featuring students from Central Michigan University (CMU) and sponsored by the Department of the Navy’s SAPR Office.
The “No Zebras, No Excuses“ live performance features skits designed to raise awareness and show service members how they can help prevent sexual assaults.
Paul Carbini, a student at CMU and cast member of the production, said the title “No Zebras, No Excuses” comes from the behavior exhibited by herds of zebras in the wild when they are preyed upon by lions.
In the animal analogy, the zebras are often separated from the group and may be coerced away from the herd; for humans, that can take the form of victims being plied with alcohol or drugs and sexually assaulted. Steve Thompson is a professor at CMU and is also an author of books on sexual aggression. He says that the presentation that CMU students do is meant to “create awareness that will result in reducing assaults and fatalities.”
Thompson has more than 28 years of research on the subject of sexual aggression and he’s made numerous discoveries that are contrary to popular belief. One of those is that training in martial arts and other self-defense courses did little to assist with stopping sexual assault. He said it quickly became clear to him that the best defense was to stop the incident before it happened by changing attitudes towards the other sex and developing mutual respect.
To do this, the students perform skits that are bold and blunt, which Carbini says seems to hit home for the audiences that see it.
The group of students from CMU has been traveling around the Navy, volunteering their time on their summer break, to take part in this partnership of sexual aggression education. One of the “No Zebras” presentations was held aboard USS Makin Island. Sailors aboard were impressed with the new approach to the subject and the way it made them think about taking care of each other.
The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, support sexual assault victims and hold offenders accountable. Navy resources are available at www.sapr.navy.mil