It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month and commands around the Army are putting on special programs to jazz up an annual training that generally elicits groans.
Next week, the 16th Military Police Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will be putting on an escape room to test soldiers’ knowledge of Army Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention program procedures and resources, spokeswoman Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Savage confirmed to Army Times on Thursday.
“Our escape room is a training event,” she said, "and a way for a squad or team to come together in a non-traditional learning environment to ensure important elements of the SHARP program are understood.”
The agenda describes the event as an exercise for soldiers to “help their buddy escape the chains of sexual harassment and assault that hold them down.”
This will take place in a conference room full of SHARP posters and educational material, Savage said, which teams will use to answer questions.
“A role player will be in the room in a chair secured with chains and fastened with combination or key locks,” she said. “Teams must answer SHARP related questions to unlock their teammate and escape the room.”
The crux of it is that this chained-down role player is meant to be a survivor needing resources ― not a battle buddy in danger of being assaulted.
“The description is meant to be a play on words,” Savage said. “The role player represents a sexual assault victim and the chains represent obstacles the victim may face. The idea is that a victim doesn’t have to be alone while going through the process.”
For example, soldiers might have to come up with the phone number to report an assault, or be tested on their knowledge of the particulars of restricted versus unrestricted reporting.
“If and when sexual misconduct is reported, our first priority is to protect and empower the victim to decide how to report it and to ensure they get any and all of the support and services they need,” Savage said.
SHARP awareness events are happening all around the Army this month, and while Savage said she’s not aware of any other escape room-themed training in other units, the idea was to tap into a trend while changing up how training is traditionally done.
“Escape rooms have become a very popular way to build team cohesion,” she said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT