By U.S. ArmyApril 21, 2017
FORT GORDON, Georgia -- The 782nd Military Intelligence Battalion (MI BN) hosted Kelvin Wade Entertainment for a performance of "I AM STRONG" to bring sexual assault awareness to the forefront in support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at Alexander Hall, April 18.
The stage play is about three Army privates portrayed by Luvenia White, Tunisia Bowen and Jeanne Morales. They are all sexually harassed by their drill sergeant and eventually one of them is assaulted.
"I wrote "I AM STRONG" for those people who are suffering in silence, those people who are going through things that they don't know how to get the answers to and just need some kind of refuge," said White.
She wants to let victims know they are not alone and there is help out there.
"I want to shed a light on the situation and hopefully give victims an outlet that provides resources and information to help them move forward."
The performance was personal for most of those involved in the stage play.
"Sexual assault, in general, is real to me because I've been through it personally. That's why I can portray the role because I am very well connected to it. I feel that connection because if you have been in a situation like that you have thoughts, maybe not suicidal, but you have terrible thoughts and memories." said Bowen.
Bowen shared this advice for victims of sexual assault or harassment. "If you see something, say something."
Morales, also a victim of sexual assault, had this to say.
"Please, please share, please let someone know. You are not alone…there is always going to be help. There are ways in order for you to overcome this, but the first thing you have to do is let someone know."
Staff Sgt. Merhil Figueroa, a victim advocate for Bravo Company, 782nd MI BN, reemphasized the importance of the performance in bringing sexual assault awareness to the forefront.
"It is important to make sure all Soldiers understand we don't accept it in any form in our units. I AM STRONG means I will stand up to anyone that is being a predator within my unit. I will act to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault before it actually happens."
The performance also impacts Fort Gordon's civilian workforce. Allen Barry and Fernando Vazquez, both U.S. Army civilians attended the event as part of their annual training requirements.
"We're not privy to a lot of the information (about sexual harassment and assaults), but we see the ramifications and that there is a problem, so performances like these help raise awareness," said Barry.
Audience members left the performance with a much better understanding of the impact of sexual assault and harassment.