The Air Force has taken a page out of the civilian court handbook by creating advocates for victims of military sexual trauma (MST).
The hope is by providing an advocate – Special Victims’ Counsels (SVC) – victims will be more willing to report assaults and testify in military court according to NPR’s Larry Abramson.
“We know 85 percent of our victims don’t report,” Lt. Gen. Richard Harding says. “Maybe if they understood the value of an SVC, some of them might feel a little bit more comfortable about reporting.”
That’s the long-term hope for the Special Victims’ Counsel program, which is currently limited to the Air Force but could expand to other services. The immediate goal is to train around 50 lawyers who will help victims get through the legal process.
You can listen to the full NPR story here.
The Department of Defense has a three-part Safe Helpline campaign to help any military member who has been the victim of military sexual assault.
- CLICK: Logging on to www.SafeHelpline.org allows users 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. This service can also be accessed via a format for mobile phones.
- CALL: Calling 877-995-5247 allows users to speak with trained Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support. Safe Helpline staff can transfer callers directly to installation-based Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs)/ On-call SAPR Victim Advocates, civilian rape crisis centers, Military OneSource, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The “warm hand-off” process personally connects the user with a resource representative for further assistance. Staff will transfer the caller to any resource at the location of the caller’s choice. For example, a caller may want to speak to the SARC at the location where their unit is based, not where they are currently located. If the contact is unavailable at the time of the “warm hand-off,” the Safe Helpline staff will offer contact information to the caller to follow-up with support personnel at a later time.
- TEXT: Texting a location or zip code to 55-247 in the U.S. and 202-470-5546 outside the U.S. allows users to receive contact information for the SARC; medical, legal, spiritual, and military police personnel; and Department of Veterans Affairs personnel at their installation or base.
Filed under: Air Force, Department of Defense, Military Sexual Assault | Tagged: Larry Abramson, military sexual assault, Military sexual trauma, NPR, Special Victims Counsel, United States Air Force, United States Department of Defense |