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Victim Support Comes First

DoD has an uncompromising commitment to victim assistance. A healthy culture supports those who make the difficult decision to report a sexual assault crime when it does occur.

DoD's mission is to provide high quality services and support to victims and survivors of sexual assault that strengthen their resilience and instill confidence and trust in the reporting process, whether they file a restricted or unrestricted report.

Help For Me

Help for Me

If you have been, or think you have been, sexually assaulted:

  1. Go to a safe location away from the perpetrator. 
  2. Preserve all evidence of the assault. Do not bathe, wash your hands or brush your teeth. If you are still where the crime occurred, do not clean, or straighten up, or remove anything from the crime scene.
  3. Contact a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA).
    • 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:
  4. 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 health care personnel to conduct a sexual assault forensic examination to preserve forensic evidence.
    • If you suspect you have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected.
  5. Military members usually have an option about 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. However, when the victim reports the crime to someone in the chain of command, a Restricted Report is no longer an option.
    • To understand the differences between Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting, see a sample response flowchart here.
  6. Write down, tape or record by any other means all the details you can recall about the assault and your assailant.
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.
Help for Someone I Supervise

Help for Someone I Supervise

By presenting to the chain of command or military law enforcement, a military victim of sexual assault can only file an Unrestricted Report.

  1. Ensure the victim is at a safe location away from the perpetrator. If not, take him or her to a safe place.
  2. Work with law enforcement to protect the victim from the perpetrator and others acting on the perpetrator's behalf. If the victim's safety is still threatened, contact military law enforcement or local police as soon as possible.
  3. Ask if the victim 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. Military members usually have an option about how to report the crime.
    1. Unrestricted Reports allow the victim to participate in the military criminal justice process.
    2. Restricted Reports are kept confidential, and command and law enforcement are not notified. However, when the victim reports the crime to someone in the chain of command, a Restricted Report is no longer an option. If you are in the individual's chain of command, you must report the matter.
    3. To understand the differences between Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting, see a sample response flowchart here.
  5. Other than safety and health-related questions, try to refrain from asking the victim for details about the incident. Show interest in what the victim says and ask what you can do to help him or her.
  6. Contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at your installation and/or your unit SAPR Victim Advocate (VA), and arrange for the victim to speak with one of them.
    • SARCs and (SAPR VAs) have a 24- hour, seven-days- a-week phone number for victims at every military installation. If you need to find out that phone number, it may be available through the DoD Safe Helpline - at 877-995-5247 or at SafeHelpline.org
    • SARCs and 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.
  7. If requested, assist the victim with getting to the SARC, SAPR VA and/or medical care.
  8. While SARCs typically ensure that law enforcement and command are notified of sexual assaults, you also should report the incident to your chain of command.
    • Report the crime in your unit only to those persons with a legitimate need to know (e.g., commander, first sergeant). Do not discuss the matter casually with co-workers, friends or family members. It is critical to protect the privacy of a sexual assault victim, and maintain good order and discipline within the unit.
    • Report the crime to a Military Criminal Investigative Organization (CID, NCIS, and AFOSI). Investigators may want to interview you about the incident.
  9. Ensure the victim is allowed time to attend medical and other appointments, such as with the SARC, SAPR VA or law enforcement. Assist with administrative and logistical arrangements so that victims can access services and receive care. Again, only inform those with a legitimate need to know why the victim is absent or requires logistical assistance.
  10. Keep an eye on the victim's safety. A Military Protective Order (MPO) may be issued by command to keep the perpetrator away from the victim. Check with the SARC to see if the victim is eligible for a Civilian Protective Order (CPO), as well.
    • Watch for signs that the perpetrator is violating the terms of the MPO or CPO. If the perpetrator violates either order, notify law enforcement at once.
    • Consider the victim's input on whether or not he or she desires to be temporarily moved to another unit.
    • Work with command to determine if the victim's condition warrants redeployment or reassignment.
  11. Ensure the victim is made aware of and encouraged to exercise his or her options during each phase of the medical, investigative and legal processes as explained by the SARC/SAPR VA related to (e.g., SAFE, expedited transfer, retaliation, ostracism, and safety assessment). Check with the victim to see if he or she knows his or her rights in the military justice process. The Special Victims' Counsel (SVC) / Victims' Legal Counsel (VLC) or the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) at your installation's legal office can help the victim through the justice system.
  12. Support the victim as he or she goes through the investigation and legal proceedings. You don't have to "fix" anything — just be available to listen when he or she needs you. Be patient with the person's duty performance as he or she recovers from being the victim of a crime
  13. Provide the victim with DoD Safe Helpline and Safe HelpRoom contact information.
By Duty Status

By Duty Status

The Department works to ensure that every survivor of sexual assault is treated with the sensitivity they deserve, the privacy they prefer, and the responsive support they need. Reporting is encouraged - either a restricted or unrestricted report - because reporting this crime is essential to deliver care and hold offenders appropriately accountable. Restricted reports are confidential but not anonymous, and unrestricted reports are shared with the commander in the reporting location and investigated by Military Criminal Investigation Organization (MCIO).

Whether you are an Active Duty, Reserve Component, or Transitioning Service Member, a Veteran, DoD Civilian, adult DoD Dependent, DoD Contractor, find information and resources designed to meet the unique needs of a military victim of sexual assault below.

If you are not affiliated with the military, resources and assistance may be available to you through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (NSAH).

Assistance information for each duty status

Sexual Assault and Consent

Sexual Assault and Consent

What Constitutes Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a crime. It is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes:

  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated / Abusive Sexual Contact
  • Nonconsensual sodomy (oral or anal sex)
  • Indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling) or attempts to commit these acts.

Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender or spousal relationship or age of victim.

Absence of Consent

Sexual assault occurs when consent is not given for sexual contact. Lack of consent can be assumed regardless of whether a victim resists physically. Consent is also not given when a person uses force, threat of force, coercion or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated (due to drugs, alcohol, or other foreign substances) or unconscious. Other sex-related offenses are defined as all other sexual acts or acts in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that do not meet the above definition of sexual assault, or the definition of sexual harassment as in DoD Directive 1350.2, Department of Defense Military Equal Opportunity. Examples of other sex-related offenses could include indecent acts with another Service member and adultery.

View specific articles and the full UCMJ here.

Additional relevant SAPR definitions can be found in the glossary of the DoD Directive 6495.01, here.