By Sgt. Ricardo Branch, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsApril 28, 2009
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (April 22, 2009) - To the music of "Eye of the Tiger," the feminist, activist Ben Atherton-Zeman took the spotlight at 9th Mission Support Command Auditorium April 22 to raise awareness about sexual assault.
As part of the nationwide observance this month to raise awareness about one of the country\'s most under-reported crimes, Defense Department officials have developed initiatives and unconventional teaching methods to help prevent sexual assault.
Zeman, the author behind the one-man play "Voices of Men," is doing his part to educate military and civilian personnel about sexual assault and other forms of violence. The play is not something most individuals would expect from a topic such as sexual assault because it blends a mixture of pop-culture and comedy to highlight a tough issue.
"Sexual assault is seen as a woman's issue, but it's not really. It's a man's issue as well," Atherton-Zeman said. "As men, we can do our part to stop this growing issue."
Atherton-Zeman doesn't instruct from a podium, he likes to get up and get engaged with the audience with humor to break the ice for many attendees in the audience uncomfortable with sexual assault.
"The humor serves to get past people discomfort," he said. "Often males come to these briefings feeling a little defensive, so I use humor to get them to relax and listen to the information about what sexual assault is and what it is not."
The play takes bits and pieces from movies such as Rocky, James Bond, and Austin Powers to get serious messages out to the audience.
"How many times did I ask out Adrian'" said Atherton-Zeman in the voice of Rocky Balboa. "Eight times, and at any time did I stop' No. Our movies show a culture of masculinity and we change that by taking a stand today."
Brenda Huntsinger, sexual assault response coordinator, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, said that the play serves to bring to light a controversial issue that needs to be address within any community.
"We know most men are not rapists and are not committing sexual assault," she said. "However, men stay silent; women are open to talk about it. When one man stands up it's easier for others to stand up, and then we have a community that stands up against crimes like this, and people feel safer."
Spc. Lacey Hattaway, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, said sexual assault is sometimes not fully understood. Classes, which teach Soldiers what to do, and who to call help the Army deal with the severity of sexual assault.
"It can happen to anyone, not just men," she said. "In order to know about it, you need to be instructed on it. With classes teaching Soldiers about the issue, everyone will know what to do if it happens, and how to prevent it from happening again."
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 60 percent of all sexual assaults are not reported. In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of sexual assault with one person being sexually assaulted every two minutes. As the play came to a close, Atherton-Zeman ended with a solemn message.
"Not everyone loves this play. If you are agree with the message or not, you'll be arrested if you abuse or rape someone. If we can get more people aware of this crime, we can do our part to one day have a society where crimes like sexual assault don't exist."
Sexual assault victims are entitled to health care, a counselor, a victim advocate and any follow up services they require. For more information where to turn about sexual assault, Soldiers and civilians are encouraged to call Family Victim Advocacy at (808) 624-7233.