I have been sexually assaulted. What should I do?
If you have been sexually assaulted or think you have been:
- Go to a safe location away from the attacker.
- Call 877-995-5247 or text a location or zip code to 55-247 (within CONUS) or 202-470-5546 (OCONUS) or online chat with a counselor at www.SafeHelpline.org 24 hours a day or contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Victim Advocate (VA) or healthcare provider. You may also contact your chain of command or law enforcement (military or civilian), however if you do, an investigation will occur and you will not have the option of making a Restricted Report (see below). To search the SARC Roster:
- Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of becoming pregnant or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. Ask the healthcare provider to conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) to preserve forensic evidence. If you suspect you had been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected.
- Preserve all evidence of the assault. Do not bathe, wash your hands, eat or drink or brush your teeth. Do not clean or straighten up the crime scene.
- Write down, tape or record by any other means all the details you can recall about the assault and your assailant.
Reporting Options: Restricted / Unrestricted Reporting
This option is for victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling without triggering the official investigative process. Service members who are sexually assaulted and desire restricted reporting under this policy must report the assault to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Victim Advocate (VA), a healthcare provider.
As provided for above, victims may also discuss the assault with a chaplain. Discussing the assault with a chaplain is not a restricted report under this policy, it is a communication that may be protected under the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE) or applicable statues and regulations. The restricted reporting process does not affect any privilege recognized under the MRE. This policy on restricted reporting is in addition to the current protections afforded by privileged communications with a chaplain, and does not alter or affect those protections.
Healthcare providers will initiate the appropriate care and treatment, and report the sexual assault to the SARC in lieu of reporting the assault to law enforcement or the command. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign an advocate to the victim. The assigned VA will provide accurate information on the process of restricted and/or unrestricted reporting.
At the victim's discretion/request an appropriately trained healthcare provider shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE), which may include the collection of evidence. In the absence of a Department of Defense provider, the Service member will be referred to an appropriate civilian facility for the SAFE.
Who May Make A Restricted Report
Restricted reporting is available at this time to military personnel of the Armed Forces and Military Dependents 18 years of age and older who are eligible for treatment in the military healthcare system, who were victims of sexual assaul perpetrated by someone other than a spouse or intimate partner. Military personnel include members on active duty and members of the Reserve component (Reserve and National Guard). NG and Reserve Component members will be eligible to receive limited SAPR support services from a SARC and a SAPR VA and are eligible to file a Restricted or Unrestricted Report if they are reporting a sexual assault that occurred prior to, or while not performing active service or inactive training. SAPR Services are those that are provided by a SARC or SAPR VA.
Whether they file a Restricted or Unrestricted Report, members of the Reserve Components shall have access to medical treatment and counseling for injuries and illness incurred from a sexual assault inflicted upon a Service member when performing active duty service and during inactive duty training. Medical entitlements remain dependent on a Line of Duty determination as to whether or not the sexual assault incident occurred in an active duty or inactive duty training status. However, regardless of their duty status at the time that the sexual assault incident occurred, or at the time that they are seeking SAPR services, Reserve Component members can elect either the Restricted or Unrestricted Reporting option and have access to the SAPR services of a SARC and a SAPR VA.
At this time Retired members of any component are not eligible for a restricted report and Department of Defense civilian employees are not eligible.
Considerations when Electing a Restricted Report
- You receive appropriate medical treatment, advocacy, and counseling.
- Provides some personal space and time to consider your options and to begin the healing process.
- Empowers you to seek relevant information and support to make more informed decisions about participating in the criminal investigation.
- You control the release and management of your personal information.
- You decide whether and when to move forward with initiating an investigation.
- Your assailant remains unpunished and capable of assaulting other victims.
- You cannot receive a military protective order.
- You will continue to have contact with your assailant, if he/she is in your organization or billeted with you.
- Evidence from the crime scene where the assault occurred will be lost, and the official investigation, should you switch to an unrestricted report, will likely encounter significant obstacles.
- You will not be able to discuss the assault with anyone, to include your friends, without imposing an obligation on them to report the crime. The only exceptions would be chaplains, designated healthcare providers, your assigned victim advocate, and the sexual assault response coordinator.
- You will be ineligible to invoke the collateral misconduct provision of the Department's sexual assault policy in the event that your command learns that you had been engaged in some form of misconduct at the time you were assaulted.
This option is for victims of sexual assault who desire medical treatment, counseling and an official investigation of the crime. When selecting unrestricted reporting, you should use current reporting channels, e.g. chain of command, law enforcement or report the incident to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), or request healthcare providers to notify law enforcement. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign a Victim Advocate (VA). At the victim's discretion/request, the healthcare provider shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE), which may include the collection of evidence. Details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know.
Role of the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) is considered the center of gravity when it comes to ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive appropriate and responsive care. They serve as the single point of contact to coordinate sexual assault victim care. The term Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) is a standardized term utilized throughout the Department of Defense and the Services to facilitate communication and transparency regarding sexual assault response capability.
Role of the Victim Advocate
The Victim Advocate (VA) provides essential support and care to the victim to include providing non-clinical information on available options and resources to assist the victim in making informed decisions as they progress through resolution and healing. The VA maintains communications and contact with victim as needed for continued victim support.