Soldiers with the 89th Military Police Brigade took part in the revolutionary Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Got Your Back training at Howze Auditorium Aug. 11-15.
As Soldiers took their seats, they quickly realized Got Your Back training would be a departure from what they had come to know as the standard two-hour PowerPoint presentation.
"I have taken SHARP training many times over the past four years in the Army, and this was the first time I felt the training actually related to the crowd," said Spc. Ben Metzger, who serves a correctional/detainee operation specialist with the Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 89th MP Bde. "The trainers actually used terms we could relate to, which allowed it to be less monotonous than your everyday training."
Got Your Back training is an all new way of training Soldiers on how to understand, identify and combat sexual harassment.
"This training focused on bystander intervention," said 1st Lt. Nadine Bridgeford, SHARP victim advocate with the 89th MP Bde. "Bystander intervention is about being that battle buddy that steps in when they see their friend is getting taken advantage of."
The training seeks to create a cultural shift within the Army by focusing on not being a bystander.
"Before, (SHARP training) talked about what 'not to do,' and the reporting procedures," Bridgeford said. "The Got Your Back training is more about your battle buddy looking out for you and making sure you are taken care of and you taking care of your battle buddy in return."
From beginning to end, the training offered interactive instruction that employed comedy to eliminate stereotypes and identify intervention techniques.
One of the exercises encouraged Soldiers to provide examples of words used to describe each gender as someone who has a lot of sex. Soldiers were quick to offer colorful language in both categories. The presenters talked to Soldiers about how negative sexual stereotypes and language can create a difficult work environment and allow sexual predators to blend in and go unnoticed.
"Those are bad things they are saying, but people are still saying them," Bridgeford said. "(The trainers) are able to identify to the Soldiers the effects those words are causing in a workplace."
The Army continues to lead the way when it comes to educating people on sexual assault and sexual harassment.
"The Army and the military is one of the only places you will see where they will have people come in and talk and do these types of training," Bridgeford said. "You don't necessarily get this in-depth level of training in the civilian workplace and colleges.
"The military is continuing to be the forefront in the cultural shift of understanding sexual assault and harassment," she added. "I want Soldiers to be the change within their units, and be that cultural shift by stopping somebody who is making the inappropriate comments.
"Don't be a bystander. Always intervene and help your battle buddy out if you see them in a situation that could potentially be bad," Bridgeford concluded. "We need to make the cultural shift."