‘He is going to spend the rest of his life in jail’
Monique Baza stood before a crowd of mostly strangers displaying a wide smile and nervous laughter that belied the events of what happened to her Oct. 15, 2012 – the day that she was raped.
The teacher, mother, wife and Air Force reservist was a guest speaker at a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month event hosted at the Joint Region Marianas (JRM) headquarters April 17.
While she recounted the events of that early October morning, the tale turned from one of victimization to one of strength where a determined woman would bring her rapist to justice and become an outspoken community advocate against sexual assault and violence.
“He is going to spend the rest of his life in jail without the possibility of parole, which means that I not only assured that my family is going to be made safe from this monster, but I ensured, through my efforts and my vigilance, that he is not going to be out there to harm any of your families,” Baza said of her attacker who was sentenced in January 2015 in Guam courts.
Baza said the community has to come together to take a stance against sexual assault and violence in order to put an end to these acts. She also spoke of the importance of empowering victims.
“I stand here in front of you and I am a victim or a survivor of sexual assault and I am a survivor of assault and I am not embarrassed,” she said. “I am not ashamed of it because I didn’t ask for it and that’s the message that we need to send out there to anybody’s who been in this situation - it is not your fault.”
Commander, Joint Region Marianas Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar said the Navy has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual violence and while April is Sexual Awareness Prevention Month, it is an issue that should be at the top of minds every day throughout the year.
“Sexual assault is a crime and it’s something that’s not tolerated at any level in our command and in our families,” she said. “We need to do everything we can to educate folks on what it’s about and to put a full-court press on every effort to prevent it and then to take action if it happens.”
Senior Master Sgt. Jason Penny, JRM sexual assault response coordinator, and Cynthia Cabot, executive director of the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence, also gave presentations about available resources to military members and civilians.