BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
The only sound that can be heard are the cries of a woman as she lies on the floor in pain after an attack by her husband. She feels the arms of a friend wrap around her as she hears them whisper, “I’m getting you out of here.”
This is a scene from Barksdale’s Sexual Assault Theater Group. They have cultivated a way to take awareness training from power point presentations to interactive theater.
The purpose of the group is to educate Barksdale personnel and the local community on prevention and response techniques for topics such as sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence, alcoholism, suicide awareness, depression and workplace violence.
“This group brings awareness and training from paper to reality,” said Senior Airman Jessica Bicy, a SATG actress. “You hear people talk about the material all of the time but to actually watch a scenario like the ones we do grabs your attention better.”
Since December of 2014, this group has been able to accomplish that mission by performing for Barksdale at commander’s calls, the First Term Airmen Center, and Airmen Leadership School. They also perform for local colleges and police departments.
“I’ve attended a couple SATG performances. From what I’ve seen, it’s a better way to grab people’s attention on these serious subjects,” said Senior Airman Christopher Heard, 96th Bomb Squadron aviation resource manager. “When you’re just looking at a power point or listening to someone talk you tend to lose concentration or get bored. The SATG method is significantly more effective because it is entertaining, realistic, and just makes you think more.”
Additionally, the SATG was awarded $50,000 for fiscal year 2018 to be able to reach over 26,000 people across Air Force Global Strike Command.
“The first time I saw the Sexual Assault Theater Group perform the potential they had was very evident,” said General Robin Rand, AFGSC commander. “I wanted to ensure they were able to carry their method of training and education to more than just Barksdale because I feel they effectively deliver that message in an informative, professional and entertaining manner. That is why AFGSC provided them the funds to deliver that message and possibly inspire other bases to create their own groups.”
The SATG received $40,000 for fiscal year 2017, and the impact of the increased funds was noticeable. In fiscal year 2016 SATG performed for 13,000 people. During fiscal year 2017 that number doubled.
“These funds are changing the entire platform of SATG,” said Tech. Sgt. Charlton R. Nelson, SATG director.
When the group travels they send a six to seven person team for a two-day event.
“The first day consists of three workshops and an audition with the local base populace,” Nelson said. “The second day there are three separate performances and a conference with the local SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) office.”
Barksdale’s SATG is one of very few of its kind. In addition to spreading awareness, they are also spreading the concept of theater groups.
“Not only are we performing at the other bases, we are training a new team of actors and actresses to develop their own SATG at their base,” Nelson said.
Their goal is to achieve their mission and to continue to spread the SATG movement across the Air Force.
“Our Barksdale SATG is not only acting out scenarios and performing improvisation, were actually making a monumental difference in the community,” Nelson said. “I cannot wait to see the future success of our program.”