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NEWS | April 28, 2022

Escape room reveals methods for preventing sexual assault

By Tim Usrey Fort Hunter Liggett Public Affairs Office

Soldiers and civilians at Fort Hunter Liggett discovered how they might intervene to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault after embarking on a journey through an elaborate, interactive setting, called the “Escape Room,” April 20, 2022.

The program was hosted by the post’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program, otherwise known as “SHARP.” It presented true-to-life settings in which volunteer participants were required to solve clues that revealed the events, thought processes, and the ultimate outcome for an imaginary sexual assault victim.

“The goal was for participants to follow the story and to see how intervention could have changed the outcome,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Butler, the post’s sexual assault response coordinator and organizer of the event. “This was all about living after sexual assault.”

Groups of visitors found clues while winding through a maze of rooms, each supporting a particular theme. The facility featured a home setting, with bedrooms and a working kitchen, along with rooms that represented a Post Exchange, with refrigerated display cases, and a night club with music and strobe lights.

Upon entry, participants were provided with an initial clue. From there, each clue led to the next, like a treasure hunt. In this case, however, participants were led to the victim’s suicide.

“You never know what’s going on with people,” said Spc. Eduardo Quero, from the 80th Training Command, who after participating in the event with other members of his unit reflected on every-day, casual encounters with others. “This makes me want to pay more attention to what’s going on with other people.”

Butler said that the Escape Room is intended to show the importance of bystander intervention. In fact, each clue afforded him an opportunity to begin a discussion about what can been done under real-life circumstances to prevent sexual assault.

“It was challenging and we learned a lot about what someone could do – what we could do – in a real-life situation,” said Quero.

The Escape Room was offered as part of the post’s observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. It followed a presentation at the post theater, April 12, by Mike Domitrz, author and founder of The Center for Respect. Domitrz’ presentation honed in on sexual consent.

“It’s a difficult subject, but one that needs to be discussed,” said Spc. Jose Gutierrez, a Soldier from the 102nd Training Command, who attended the presentation. “(Domitrz) is very comfortable on stage and the way he presents the topic – you can tell he’s genuine.”