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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 15, 2020

SAPR Training opportunity: The many faces of resiliency

By Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy, MyCG Staff

Recovery from sexual assault takes time and support, and generally does not look the same from one person to another. For some survivors, talking about their assault helps them process the traumatic event they experienced and thus helps them along the road to recovery. Hearing first-hand accounts of those traumatic events helps family members, friends, supervisors, and peers to better understand what trauma looks like and being able to better connect with the survivor. 

“Recovery is a gradual process,” said Andrea McKie, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program specialist at Coast Guard Headquarters. “It’s like having a wound, for some it will heal a lot quicker, for others it may get infected and will need more long term care. When damages occur, we don’t know exactly how recovery will happen from one person to another. 

Eric Barreras, CEO and founder of Difference Makers (10 Strong) and former Coast Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), agrees that each victim recovers in a different manner stating that some may need counseling while others respond better to peer support. 

Hear the unique perspective of seven survivors during a web panel, Sept. 15, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., PDT. Barreras will facilitate this unique the panel via Zoom meeting. He’ll be joined by several DM (10 Strong) collaborative partners, including Words of West, Stand Up Resources, Girls Fight Back, Colorful Voices, Hush No More, The Center for Creative Arts & Healing, and the Sexual Assault Advocacy Network (SAAN).

“This is an opportunity to hear from survivors their first-hand accounts about what they experienced, and what their recovery looks like,” Barreras said. “Participants will hear the raw words from each survivor. Experiencing these events in this manner, emotionally connects the listener to the trauma the survivor experienced.”

As a former SARC in Alameda, Calif., Barreras says that the Coast Guard has worked to train Victim Advocates on the prevention side and teaching our members about bystander intervention. 

“The Coast Guard is the only military organization [with recovery] built into its program name,” Barreras said. “This panel is intended to be a snapshot of what a survivor looks like, what their path to recovery looks like, and to understand that recovery will be different for each survivor.”

The panel will include testimony from former military members. Each panel member is a survivor of various forms of sexual assault to include stalking, trafficking, or domestic violence. Though none of the panelists are current or former Coast Guard members, Barreras says listening to their experience through their words will be just as impactful as listing to a Coast Guard member.

“What we need to remember is that victimization is not unique to one pocket of society. There’s no specific victim, no specific predator who is unique because of a certain social circle or military service,” Barreras said. “It is important to know this so that we see what victimization looks like through the different perspectives to demonstrate that sexual assault shows up in so many different ways whether it is stalking, trafficking, or male victimization.”

The panel will also discuss the Coast Guard’s new policy about confiding in a friend, which McKie says is very important because it gives the survivor a choice of whom they can talk with, and it helps the victim start along the road of rebuilding trust. 

“When a person experiences sexual assault, their trust is broken,” McKie said. “Allowing them to choose who they talk with immediately following the incident, we give choice back to the victim, a choice of whom to talk to help determine who they can trust. This person of trust can offer help the victim make the choice to report.”

The training will be limited to 500 participants. Please use this link register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This webinar will include conversations that may be triggering to some audience members. 

Cultivating Difference Makers: Influencing a Cultural Shift

DM (10 Strong)’s second training, “Cultivating Difference Makers: Influencing a Cultural Shift,” which focuses on bystander intervention, is scheduled to be held Sept. 22, from 8:00 a.m., to 9:30 a.m., PDT. 

“Without intervention, offenders believe that the social and cultural climate supports their acts or, at a minimum, will guard them from detection,” Barreras said. “Our team of highly experienced and engaging presenters have the necessary tools to jumpstart the kind of change our community needs.”

Varied experience levels and professions are encouraged to attend due to the in-depth scenarios and prevention strategies that will be discussed throughout the presentation. 

“We can all make a difference in our communities,” Barreras said. “This is simply a concept that embraces the uniqueness each individual has, so they can show up for Shipmates in a way that is comfortable for them.”

This training will also be limited to 500 participants. Please click this link to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Confide in a friend