SAN DIEGO - It can be difficult for someone to understand how domestic violence or sexual assault unfold if they have never experienced either tragedy.
In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to help combat the occurrence of both issues, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego hosted a theatrical production as a means to raise awareness among depot personnel Oct. 25.
Marines sat attentively as actress Denise Dean led them through the story of a woman named Anna and her abusive relationship with her boyfriend, Rick, in a play entitled “The Yellow Dress.” During the 30-minute dialogue, Anna told her detailed story, from the blissful beginning with Rick, to bouts of jealousy and abuse that lead to her death at his hands.
“[Dean] did a fantastic job acting out the scenes. She painted a vivid picture that shows the effect domestic violence can have on someone,” said Cpl. Anita Jones, logistics specialist, Service Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion.
The interactive play, produced by Deana’s Educational Theater in Wakefield, Mass., is a compilation of real-life events domestic violence and sexual assault victims have experienced. It’s meant to stir emotions among the audience so they can better understand the victim and their thought process in an abusive relationship, said Dean.
“This scenario is exactly how a lot of real-life [domestic violence] situations unfold,” said Dean. “People need to see how this affects people and be able to step up the empathy and scale back on judgment.”
According to the director of MCRD Marine and Family Services, Lt. Col. Gregory F. Bond, there have been 41 cases of domestic violence involving personnel aboard the depot and 24 in the Western Recruiting Region.
“One is too many, but 65 is a lot,” said Bond. “This can hit home for everyone whether you’re married, not married or just dating.”
After the play, Dean gave Marines an opportunity to ask questions and give their input on the play. She then asked the question thought-provoking questions based on the play to help them learn to identify signs of abuse. Because denial or lack of knowledge can make it difficult to notice signs of abuse, it’s important for people to put themselves in the victim’s situation, said Dean.
“The lessons to take away are to trust your gut and be supportive,” Dean said. “Everyone should realize that it takes strength to be in [the victim’s] shoes – being in a bad relationship and getting out of that relationship require strength.”
The open forum allowed the audience to discuss how to deal with domestic violence and sexual assault in the military community. They discussed some of the resources available to aid victims and how to handle abuse situations as leaders of Marines.
“This is an important issue -- it’s a readiness issue,” said Col. Robert Gates, MCRD/WRR chief of staff. “This is something we need to take home and discuss with our spouses and also with our Marines at work.”
Marines welcomed the theatrical performance as an alternative to the traditional annual training methods they’ve grown accustomed to. The play proved to be an effective and interesting means of raising awareness of two issues that can affect mission readiness.
“We’re used to the typical [professional military education] class, where it consists of someone lecturing us and showing us a PowerPoint presentation,” said Jones. “This is much more effective in getting the message across that domestic violence just isn’t right.”