The Michigan National Guard Headquarters was presented with a block of sexual harassment/assault response and prevention training by Catharsis, a national group that presents unique and interactive training about sexual assault and response.
“This training is so important. It’s a great way to reach out to our Soldiers and even our full-time staff and teach them in a way that they probably haven’t seen. Catharsis has an approach that is relatable and they compel interaction from their audience,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Linda Legg-Teeple, Victim Advocate Coordinator for the Michigan National Guard.
Orvie Baker and Sharyon Culberson are the instructors for Catharsis and their approach highlights awareness by using different techniques and proven culture norms.
“When we talk about sexual assault and sexual harassment it isn’t just something that sits in a box and then pops out. It’s brought on by the environment and culture; something we call the continuum of harm,” said Baker.
This continuum of harm takes place in units with all males too. But it’s usually under the realm of hazing or initiations.
“Every time they heard the jokes and didn’t do anything about it…the danger isn’t in the words themselves, it’s the culture it breeds,” said Baker. “It’s not just enough to be aware of this happening. We have to take steps to make it stop. We send a message that we don’t look out for each other and the predator is looking at this as a zone where he can take advantage and get away with it.”
The training is mixed with some humor to try and get people out of their shell. According to Culberson, they learn more that way.
Sharyon Culbertson of Catharsis Productions conducts Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) training at Joint Forces Headquarters, Michigan Army National Guard, Feb. 12, 2016. “Got Your Back” training is a dynamic, interactive lecture provided by Catharsis Productions for the prevention of sexual violence and harassment. ( Michigan National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Helen Miller/Released)
“This is obviously a very difficult topic. People tend to clam up and by forcing them to be interactive it helps us as instructors know they understand what we are saying,” said Culberson. “We are very specific about when we use humor in our teaching because we don’t want to do more harm than good.”
The trainers would agree that preventing assault and harassment begins with one key, situational awareness.
“Ask yourself, is anyone being hurt on your watch? If you can confidently answer no, then you are probably doing everything you can to prevent an assault or harassment,” said Culberson.