There was a lot of controversy over the escape room the 16th Military Police Brigade hosted during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM).

The escape room provided Soldiers with non-traditional training outside a classroom environment that highlighted resources available to them if they ever become a victim of sexual assault.

Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pitts, the unit’s sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) is passionate about the Sexual Harasement Assault Response (SHARP) program and is always looking for ways to create innovative and memorable training.

He came up with the idea of pairing SHARP training and an escape room after he attended a few escape rooms with friends.

First Lt. Jackson Bartlett, 503rd Military Police Battalion (Airborne), responded to the controversy of the “escape” theme.

“It definitely was a misperception to automatically jump to a negative conclusion,” Bartlett said. “I could see where there was concerns having the words ‘escape room’ and ‘sexual assault’ together, but most people know what an escape room is.”

Bartlett was with the first team of Soldiers who went through the training. When they entered the room, they saw Staff Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez, the SARC for the 503rd MP Bn. (Airborne), chained to a chair, held down by 100-pound weights. SHARP posters, regulations and training aids were displayed throughout the room and contained the answers to the clues given, allowing the teams to unlock the chains holding down Rodriguez.

Multiple Soldiers said they had a better understanding of restricted and unrestricted reporting options after attending the training.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Hernandez, 503rd MP Bn. (Airborne), was one of these Soldiers. In addition, he pointed out the symbolism of the event.

“I saw the chair with the chains and the weights,” Hernandez said. “I thought of it as if you don’t say anything … the feelings and that kind of emotions can weigh you down and affect everything … there is no where you can go, you just feel chained down.”