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


Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

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Help for my friend

  1. Ensure your friend is at a safe location away from the perpetrator. If not, take him or her to a safe place.

  2. If there is an immediate threat to the victim's safety, contact military law enforcement or local police immediately. Work with law enforcement to protect the victim from the perpetrator and others acting on the perpetrator's behalf.

  3. Ask if your friend would like to seek medical care. If the victim requires emergency medical care, call 911 or your installation's emergency medical care services. If the victim requires less than emergency care, help him or her get to a medical provider as soon as possible.

  4. Encourage your friend to report the incident to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA). You may also contact the SARC for information.

    • SARCs and/or SAPR VAs are available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week at every military installation.

    • Local information provided by your military Service or Hotline Number.

    • Contact DoD Safe Helpline for live, one-on-one support and information. The service is confidential, anonymous, secure, and available worldwide, 24/7 by click, call or text - providing victims with the help they need anytime, anywhere:

    • SARCs and SAPR VAs can inform the victim of the medical, legal and spiritual resources available, both on and off base. They can also help arrange for these services and a sexual assault forensic examination, if the victim so desires.

  5. Other than safety and health-related questions, try to refrain from asking your friend for details about the incident. Show interest in what the victim says and ask what you can do to help him or her.

  6. Military members usually have two options how to report the crime.

    • Unrestricted Reports allow the victim to participate in the military criminal justice process.

    • Restricted Reports are kept confidential, and command and law enforcement are not notified. A victim can convert a Restricted Report into an Unrestricted Report at any time.

    • NOTE: When the victim reports the crime to someone in the chain of command, a Restricted Report may no longer be an option. If you are in the individual's chain of command, you may have to report the matter. Please see your SARC or SAPR VA for more guidance.

  7. Assist your friend with getting to the SARC, SAPR VA and/or medical care, if your friend so desires.

  8. Offer to stay with your friend. Victims are often reluctant to be alone after a frightening ordeal. Accompany your friend to the hospital or other places if he or she so desires.

  9. Be a good listener. Avoid being judgmental, keep from second-guessing and resist placing any blame on him or her. Simply listen and accept what he or she says.

  10. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to recover from a sexual assault. However, there are unhelpful or self-destructive ways of coping. Alcohol abuse, drug use, suicidal statements or increased behaviors with unhealthy outcomes (unprotected and/or anonymous sex, gambling, smoking, overeating, etc.) are sometimes warning signs that your friend needs to get professional assistance. Don't be afraid to suggest that your friend might need advice from someone skilled to help him or her with more productive coping strategies.

  11. The Safe Helpline mobile app provides self-care strategies and doesn’t need an internet connection once anonymously downloaded; especially helpful for those deployed in places where an internet connection is minimally available.