SAPRO Crest. Department of Defense: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

Restricted Reporting

This option is for adult victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals without triggering the official investigative process or notification to command. Service Members or their adult military dependents who desire Restricted Reporting under this policy must use one of the following reporting avenues:

  • Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
  • SAPR Victim Advocate (VA)
  • Healthcare Provider or Personnel

While Special Victims' Counsel and chaplains have confidentiality/privilege, they CANNOT accept a Restricted Report.


Who May Make a Restricted Report?

Who is eligible to make a Restricted Report? At this time, only military personnel of the Armed Forces and their adult dependents are eligible to file a Restricted Report. Service members who were victims of sexual assault PRIOR to enlistment or commissioning are eligible to receive SAPR services under either reporting option. The DoD shall provide support to a Service member regardless of when or where the sexual assault took place. National Guard (NG) and Reserve Component members who are sexually assaulted when performing active service or inactive duty training, or if reporting a sexual assault that occurred prior to, or while not performing active service or inactive duty training, are eligible to receive SAPR support advocacy services from a SARC and a SAPR VA and the appropriate referrals, if requested, and are eligible to file a Restricted or Unrestricted Report.

Who is not eligible? DoD civilians, and DoD contractor victims currently may use only Unrestricted Reporting. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program does not handle domestic violence cases. They are handled by the Family Advocacy Program.

Understanding DoD's Restricted (Confidential) Reporting Policy

DoD's Restricted (Confidential) Reporting Policy permits adult victims of sexual assault to report the crime to specified individuals (SARC, SAPR VA, or healthcare personnel) who can then ensure the victim receives healthcare (medical and mental health), advocacy services (from a SARC or SAPR VA), and legal advice (from a Special Victims' Counsel) without notifying command or law enforcement officials. For purposes of public safety and command responsibility, the SARC will notify the installation commander that “an assault” has occurred and provide very limited details that do NOT include the identity of the victim. See the Department of Defense Directive 6495.01, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program for complete details.

This policy provides victims some personal space and time and increased control over the release and management of their personal information. This is intended to empower them to seek relevant information and support to make more informed decisions about participating in the criminal investigation. Jurisdictions with similar policies have found that confidentiality actually leads to increased reporting rates. Even if the victim chooses not to pursue an official investigation, the commander does receive the anonymous reporting information, which in turn, gives commanders a clearer picture of the sexual violence within their command and enhances a commander's ability to provide an environment which is safe and contributes to the well-being and mission readiness of all of its members.


Restricted Reporting Example

  • Service Member Smith arrives at the base medical emergency room and reports she has been sexually assaulted. Healthcare personnel immediately notify the SARC and begin any appropriate emergency medical treatment. Military law enforcement is NOT contacted.
  • The SARC assigns a SAPR VA to assist Service Member Smith. The SAPR VA meets Service Member Smith at the hospital and explains the Unrestricted and Restricted Reporting options and the processes associated with each, to include applicable pros and cons.
  • Service Member Smith elects the Restricted Reporting option.
  • Service Member Smith is asked if she would like a forensic examination, and she agrees.
  • The SAPR VA advises the healthcare personnel that Service Member Smith has elected the Restricted Reporting option and would like a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE).
  • Forensic evidence of the assault is collected and preserved, and a computer-generated number is placed on the evidence instead of the victim’s name.
  • The healthcare personnel determines and schedules follow-up healthcare (medical and mental health) as appropriate, or as requested by the victim.
  • The SAPR VA advises the SARC that Service Member Smith has elected the Restricted Reporting option.
  • Within 24 hours of Service Member Smith's Restricted Report, the SARC will inform the senior commander that “an assault” has occurred, and provide the commander with details related to the sexual assault allegation but will NOT include the victim’s name or information that could allow the commander to easily deduce the name. Careful consideration of which details to include is of particular significance at smaller locations like a Forward Operating Base or a submarine.
  • The SARC maintains information regarding the number of sexual assaults for both Unrestricted and Restricted Reports. Restricted Report numbers will be included in the DoD SAPR annual report.
  • The SAPR VA maintains communication and contact with the victim as needed for continued victim support.

Considerations When Electing a Restricted Reporting Decision

Benefits

  • It is crucial to your recovery that you receive healthcare (medical and mental health) and victim advocacy as soon as possible after you are assaulted.
  • Provides 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. Allows you time to get legal advice from a Special Victims' Counsel.
  • You control the release and management of your personal information.
  • You decide whether and when to move forward with initiating an investigation.

Limitations

  • Your assailant cannot be held accountable and may be capable of assaulting other victims.
  • You cannot receive a military protective order.
  • You cannot request an Expedited Transfer to allow you to move to a different unit or base.
  • You will continue to have contact with your assailant, if he or 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 should not discuss the assault with anyone, to include your friends, because they may be mandatory reporters. The only exceptions would be chaplains, healthcare personnel, your assigned SAPR VA or SARC, and Special Victims' Counsel.

Unrestricted Reporting

This option is recommended for victims of sexual assault who desire an official investigation and command notification in addition to healthcare, victim advocacy and legal services. When selecting Unrestricted Reporting, you should use current reporting channels, e.g.:

  • Law Enforcement/MCIO (will initiate an investigation and start a “report of investigation”)
  • Commander (who will then immediately contact the MCIO to start a “report of investigation”)
  • Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) (who will fill out a report with the “DD Form 2910” where the victim elects a reporting option)
  • SAPR Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) (who will fill out a report with the “DD Form 2910”)
  • Health care personnel (who will then immediately contact the SARC to fill out the “DD Form 2910”)

Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign a SAPR VA and inform the victim of their right to speak to a Special Victims' Counsel / Victims' Legal Counsel (SVC / VLC). At the victim's discretion or request, the healthcare personnel 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.


Investigation Process

The nature of the investigative process can be stressful for victims of sexual assault despite the sincere efforts of law enforcement, staff judge advocates and other personnel entrusted with holding offenders appropriately accountable. All Service members who are victims of sexual assault are eligible to have a Special Victims' Counsel, who is their own attorney and can help them understand the process and safeguard their victims’ rights.

Investigators must carefully collect evidence, and the process from investigation to courts martial or some other form of punishment may take many months. They must often ask you, the victim, very precise and probing questions because there usually are no eyewitnesses to provide crucial details. You may not feel you are ready to answer questions so soon after your assault, but the investigators need to interview you while your memories are fresh. Much patience will be required on your part. You will be kept well informed of any investigative actions taken in response to your reported sexual assault. Your commander will ensure, at a minimum, you receive a monthly update regarding the current status of any on-going investigative, prosecution, or command proceedings regarding the sexual assault. Monthly updates are required until the final disposition of the reported assault. "Final disposition" means the conclusion of any judicial, non-judicial, and administrative actions (including separation actions and no action).

The SVC / VLC, SAPR VA, and Victim / Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) personnel are here to assist you through this process and provide you support.


Unrestricted Reporting Example

  • Service Member Smith arrives at the base medical emergency room and reports he has been sexually assaulted. Healthcare personnel immediately notify the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and begin administration of any emergency healthcare (medical and mental health) treatment.
  • The SARC assigns a SAPR Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) to assist Service Member Smith. The SAPR VA meets Service Member Smith at the hospital, explains the Unrestricted and Restricted Reporting options and processes associated with each to include applicable pros and cons.
  • Service Member Smith elects the Unrestricted Reporting option.
  • The SAPR VA immediately notifies the appropriate Military Criminal Investigative Office (MCIO) investigator for the Service and the victim's unit commander.
  • MCIO investigators arrive and begin the investigation.
  • Service Member Smith is asked if he would like a SAFE, and he agrees.
  • The VA advises the healthcare personnel that Service Member Smith has elected the Unrestricted Reporting option and would like a SAFE.
  • Forensic evidence of the assault is collected by healthcare personnel, and at its conclusion, MCIO investigators take chain of custody.
  • The healthcare personnel determines and schedules needed or victim-requested follow-up medical or mental health treatment.
  • The SAPR VA advises the SARC that Service Member Smith has elected the Unrestricted Reporting option.
  • In addition to any current existing channels of notification, within 24 hours of Service Member Smith's Unrestricted Report, the SARC will inform the senior commander that an assault has occurred, and provide the commander with the details of the assault. This information will only be disclosed to personnel with an official “need to know.”
  • The SARC maintains information regarding the number of sexual assaults for both Unrestricted and Restricted Reports. Restricted Report numbers will be included in the DoD SAPR annual report.
  • The SAPR VA maintains communications and contact with the victim as needed for continued victim support.

Considerations When Electing an Unrestricted Reporting Decision

Benefits

  • Victims feel a sense of closure or healing which can aid recovery.
  • Ability for Military to hold the offender appropriately accountable.
  • Ensure the safety of the victim and of others, who may be victimized by the same suspect.
  • Ability to request a Military Protective Order.
  • Ability to request an Expedited Transfer to move to a different unit or base.

Reporting Options

Sexual assault is the most underreported crime in our society and in the Military. While the Department of Defense prefers that sexual assault incidents are reported to the command to activate both victims' services and law enforcement actions, it recognizes that some victims desire only healthcare and advocacy services and do not want command or law enforcement involvement. The Department believes its first priority is for victims to be treated with dignity and respect and to receive the medical treatment, mental health counseling, and the advocacy services that they deserve.

Under DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Policy, Service members and their adult military dependents have two reporting options - Restricted Reporting and Unrestricted Reporting. Under Unrestricted Reporting, both the command and law enforcement are notified. With Restricted (Confidential) Reporting, the adult sexual assault victim can access healthcare, advocacy services, and legal services without the notification to command or law enforcement. Military retiree, DoD civilian, and DoD contractor victims currently may use only Unrestricted Reporting.

Learn about Restricted Reporting Learn about Unrestricted Reporting Download a Sexual Assault Response Report Flowchart