The Department of Defense today launched its newest initiative to support victims of sexual assault. Using DoD Safe Helpline, service members can "click, call or text" for victim support services for themselves or others. The free, anonymous and confidential resource can be accessed worldwide, 24-hours a day, every day, to connect with live sexual assault support professionals.
In addition to improving victim care, secure and confidential access to Safe Helpline was developed to encourage victims to come forward when they might not otherwise.
"The underreporting of sexual assault poses a serious challenge to military readiness," said Clifford L. Stanley, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "We believe the Safe Helpline will provide DoD sexual assault victims with a variety of support outlets, which will lead victims to report sexual assault, seek needed information, and receive care."
Safe Helpline offers three access options designed for service members. Users can log on to http://www.SafeHelpline.org to receive live, one-on-one confidential help with a trained professional through a secure instant-messaging format. The website also provides vital information about recovering from and reporting sexual assault. A second option is to call the telephone hotline at 877-995-5247 to speak with Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support. Safe Helpline staff can also transfer callers to installation-based sexual assault response coordinators (SARC), on-call victim advocates, civilian rape crisis centers, or to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The third option is for users to text their location to 55247 inside the United States or 202-470-5546 outside of the United States to receive automated contact information for the SARC at their installation or base.
Further information on Safe Helpline can be found on http://www.SafeHelpline.org or at http://www.sapr.mil .
Editor's comment: I truly hope this new service will be useful to victims of sexual assault in the military. My son called the DoD Police on Ft. Dix in the middle of the night, asking for help, four days before he was killed. They not only did not investigate, they provided no victim support services and tried to twist the incident so that he could be charged with assault upon his attackers. Eventually, this effort to blame the victim resulted in his death. The incident report was "buried" until the DoD police were forced to produce it.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. I'm sorry to say that I have little optimism that bullying and/or sexual assault will end in the military.