Fort Bragg's new sexual assault awareness event features a soldier chained to a chair in an 'escape room'

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(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Paige Behringer)

To tackle the ever-present problem of sexual assault in the U.S. military, Fort Bragg is hosting an "escape room"-style event this week during which a soldier will be chained to a chair.

This seems ... ill-advised.


Army Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Savage, spokesperson for the16th Military Police Brigade, told Task & Purpose that the escape room is a "training event," meant to bring soldiers together to "ensure important elements of the SHARP [Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention] program are understood."

In the conference room where the escape room plays out, a soldier is chained to a chair with four locks. To unlock the chains, the soldier's team members must answer a series of questions regarding SHARP.

For example, Savage said, the on-post SHARP hotline number would unlock one of the locks.

"Think of it as a puzzle room," Savage told Task & Purpose. "And with that, gaining resources of different types of reporting ... other information a soldier can use if a sexual assault were to happen, so they can be empowered to know how and when to report."

Savage said she spoke to the first team of soldiers to do the escape room on Monday morning, who told her it was "good training because it made them get into the regulations and understand things" better.

This comes a couple of weeks after the Army kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a "cake cutting ceremony and declaration signing," which didn't go over well with at least one Army reserve battalion commander.

Meanwhile, at the Air Force Academy, cadets will be required to wear jeans on April 24 to raise awareness of sexual assault. According to The Gazette in Colorado, "Denim Day" stems from a 1998 Italian court ruling which "overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans."

The Brigade's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pitts, told Task & Purpose that as of Monday afternoon, six teams (31 soldiers) had completed training in the room.

Pitts said he and the Brigade Equal Opportunity NCO used command climate surveys "to determine where we could enhance understanding of the SHARP program. The questions in our escape room were derived from these surveys."

While using an escape room to engage soldiers on SHARP seems well-intention, the idea of chaining someone to a chair in an exercise revolving around sexual assault is a questionable one. But as Army Times reported, the idea is for soldiers to "help their buddy escape the chains of sexual harassment and assault."

So there's that, I guess.

SEE ALSO: Sexual Assaults At Military Service Academies Up Nearly 50 Percent Over 2 Years, Pentagon Finds

WATCH NEXT: Sen. Martha McSally Discloses Her Air Force Sexual Assault

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

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