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'No Zebras, No Excuses' Bring Sexual Assault Awareness to Naval Base San Diego

From Navy Public Affairs Support Element West:

More than 500 Sailors at Naval Base San Diego attended a live performance, Aug. 14, in the base theater, to raise awareness about sexual assault and how to prevent it.

Performing on stage were students from the Central Michigan University (CMU) 'No Zebras, No Excuses' performance group, which acted out a variety of vignettes to address and recognize forms of assault and ask the audience questions such as: What will you do when it occurs? How would you make a difference?


"Our acts portray different areas of sexual aggression," said cast member Paul Carbini. "In between the vignettes, there is an explanation on what the audience saw and how to interpret and intervene on that situation. The training is not sugar-coated; we put it right in the audience's face."

The acts featured scenarios ranging from situations at parties to predators using alcohol and drugs to target individuals.

According to Stephen Thompson, CMU faculty member and sexual aggression services director, these situations are taken from hundreds of real life experiences.

"What if you or someone you loved were in a situation dealing with sexual assault?" Thompson asked. "What would you want done? These situations point out behaviors that cause a reasonable person to be uncomfortable, threatened, offended, intimidated and afraid."

"These incidents do not happen in a vacuum," said Thompson. "Other people know, but they just don't know what to do about it and that's why we are here. The first thing you have to do is notice behavior."


"Doing nothing is the zebra," said Thompson, referring to an earlier analogy of bystanders being similar to a herd of zebras. "You can't change what you were before you walked in those doors. You can change what you are now and what you are going to be after today. Choose not to be a zebra."

Some of the acts incorporated comedy and emotion to keep the audience members engaged.

"A lot of times I do training that sounds very scripted and people fade out," said Ensign Kelli Gardner, attendee and sexual assault prevention and response representative for USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). "This seems like a way to engage people more, a better way to present situations."

As the performance came to a close the 12-member cast encompassed the entire theater and expressed messages ranging from sexual assault statistics to living up to the Navy's Core Values. But the final message asked the audience: Now that you know, what are you going to do?

Other stops along the Zebras' tour include USS Boxer (LHD 4), Aug. 15; and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 16-17.

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an element of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, support sexual assault victims, and hold offenders accountable.