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 perpetrator. If you want to talk with someone or want assistance, you have individuals who are ready to help. Make sure you understand the difference between a restricted and unrestricted report so that those you reach out to will understand your needs and can best assist you.
You may contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)/Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Specialist, Victim Advocate (VA)/ SHARP Specialist or healthcare provider. Your communication with the SARC/SHARP Specialist, VA/SHARP Specialist, or healthcare provider is privileged and confidential except in specific circumstances. While a chaplain cannot take a restricted report, communication with a chaplain may be privileged under the Military Rules of Evidence or applicable statutes and regulations when they are made confidentially and as a formal act of religion or as a matter of conscience. Chaplains may not disclose a confidential or privileged communication revealed in the practice of their ministry without the individual's informed consent.
You may also contact your chain of command or law enforcement (military or civilian); however, if you contact your chain of command or law enforcement, an investigation will occur, and you will not have the option of making a restricted report (see below). Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if, like many sexual assault victims, 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 to preserve forensic evidence in case you decide later that you want to file an unrestricted report of sexual assault which may lead to prosecution. If you suspect you may have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected. Preserve all evidence of the assault. Even if you feel an intense need to clean yourself, do not bathe, wash your hands, eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Do not clean or straighten up the crime scene. You may not be thinking clearly due to the trauma, so taking these steps at the outset will help preserve evidence that investigators or law enforcement personnel may need to collect in the event that you file an unrestricted report.
Sexual assault victims who want to confidentially disclose a sexual assault without triggering an official investigation can contact a SARC/SHARP Specialist, VA/SHARP Specialist, or a healthcare provider. By filing a restricted report with a SARC/SHARP Specialist, VA/SHARP Specialist, or a healthcare provider, a victim can disclose the sexual assault without triggering an official investigation AND receive medical treatment, advocacy services, legal assistance, and counseling.
Victim conversations with a SARC/SHARP Specialist or VA/ SHARP Specialist about the sexual assault are confidential communications, not to be disclosed to others, including law enforcement or the chain of command, except in a few very rare circumstances.
Discussing a sexual assault with a chaplain is not the same as filing a restricted report, but communications with a chaplain are privileged under Military Rule of Evidence 503 and AR 165-1.
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 assault 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 Sexual Harassment Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) 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. SHARP 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 SHARP 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, legal assistance, and counseling.
*It provides some personal space and time to consider your options and to begin the healing process.
*It empowers you to seek relevant information and support to make informed decisions about whether you want to participate in a criminal investigation.
*You control the release and management of your personal information.
*You decide whether and when to move forward with initiating an investigation.
*It can establish a record important for future potential Veteran benefits and treatment.
*Your assailant remains unpunished.
*You cannot receive a military protective order.
*You may 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 may 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 in your chain of command without imposing an obligation on them to report the incident, and some commands have requirements that impose this duty on all Soldiers, to include your friends. The only exceptions would be chaplains, designated healthcare providers, your assigned SHARP/VA Specialist, and the SARC/SHARP Specialist.
*You will be ineligible to invoke the collateral misconduct provision of DoD'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.
You are not eligible for a potential expedited transfer.
This option is for victims of sexual assault who desire medical treatment, counseling, legal assistance, SARC/SHARP Specialist and VA/SHARP Specialist assistance, and an official investigation of the crime. When selecting unrestricted reporting, you may report the incident to the SARC/SHARP Specialist or VA/SHARP Specialist, request healthcare providers to notify law enforcement, contact law enforcement yourself, or use current reporting channels, e.g., chain of command. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC/SHARP Specialist will immediately assign a VA/SHARP Specialist. You will also be advised of your right to access to legal assistance that is separate from prosecution resources. 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 SARC/SHARP SPECIALIST
The SARC/SHARP Specialist 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.
ROLE OF THE VICTIM ADVOCATE / SHARP SPECIALIST
The VA/SHARP Specialist provides essential support and care to the victim, providing non-clinical information on available reporting options, unit transfer options and procedures, and resources to assist the victim in making informed decisions as they progress through resolution and healing. The VA/SHARP Specialist maintains communications and contact with the victim as needed for continued victim support. They also explain document and evidence retention so that the victim understands what documentation and evidence are retained and for how long and that the identity of anyone electing restricted reporting will be protected throughout.