Options Available To Military Victims Of Sexual Assault

February 1, 2009

As promised, I’m doing a follow-up on the sexual assault article from a few days ago. Hopefully, with this post, our readers will better understand what options are available to victims of sexual assault in the military and be able to better understand the steps that have put into place to ensure that victims of sexual assault not only receive the treatment that they are entitled to, but the steps that the military has taken to ensure that the victim of a sexual assault is treated with fairness and respect and given options on how their case will be handled. While the system is never perfect and there are cases in which the victim isn’t treated with fairness and respect, in most instances, the system has been created to ensure the safety and care of the victim.

According to Army Policy, Sexual Assault is a criminal offense that has NO place in the Army. It degrades mission readiness by devastating the Army’s ability to work effectively as a team. It has a devastating and often lasting impact on the victim, a fellow Soldier. The Army is serious about this program and about doing everything possible to prevent sexual assaults from occurring within it’s ranks. The goals of the Army’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program are:

Create a climate that minimizes sexual assault incidents, which impact Army personnel, Army civilians, and family members, and, if an incident should occur, ensure that victims and subjects are treated according to Army policy.

Create a climate that encourages victims to report incidents of sexual assault without fear. Establish sexual assault prevention training and awareness programs to educate Soldiers. Ensure sensitive and comprehensive treatment to restore victims’ health and well-being.

Ensure leaders understand their roles and responsibilities regarding response to sexual assault victims, thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual assault, and take appropriate administrative and disciplinary action.1

Sexual Assault is a CRIME both in the military and in the civilian sector. Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannont consent. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship or sexual orientation. Sexual assault is not about romance or passion, but instead it’s about exerting power and control over someone else. Sexual assault is a crime that the Army takes very seriously, as well they should.

In the Army, victim’s of sexual assault are given two reporting options. Those options are Restricted Reporting or Unrestricted Reporting. I’ll explain the difference.

Restricted Reporting
* A restricted report does not trigger the investigative process.
* A restricted report allow the service member who is sexually assaulted to disclose the incident to the following people:
The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
A Victim Advocate (This can be an Installation Victim Advocate or a Unit Victim Advocate.
A Healthcare Provider
A Chaplain
* A restricted report allows the victim to receive medical treatment, a forensic examination, victim advocacy services and counseling assistance.
* A restricted report allows only non-identifying information to be provided to the installation commander, for statistical purposes.2

A restricted report has both benefits and limitations. The benefits of utilizing the restricted reporting option are that the victim is able to receive medical treatment, advocacy services and counseling. The victim is provided with personal space and time to consider their options without pressure. The victim is in control over the release and management of his or her personal information. The victim can change to an unrestricted report at any time. The disadvantages of restricted reporting are: The victim’s assailant remains unpunished. The victim cannot obtain a military protective order. The victim may continue to have contact with their assailant. The victim will not be able to discuss the assault with other service members without initiating the obligation for them to report the crime.

Unrestricted Reporting
* Allows the investigative process to begin.
* Law enforcement and command structure are notified.
* Actions are taken to protect the victim from further acts of violence.
* The victim can obtain both a military and civilian protective order against their assailant.
* The victim can receive medical treatment, including a forensic examination, counseling and the victim is able to inform the appropriate legal and command authority.
* The offender is held accountable.3

As in restricted reporting, there are both advantages and disadvantages to an unrestricted report. The advantages are that the victim is ensured the widest range of rights and protections that is available. Commander support (Military protective orders and separation from the offender. A full investigation is conducted which enhances the opportunity to hold the offender accountable for the crime. This may encourage other victims to come forward. Enhances community safety. The disadvantages to unrestricted reporting are: Once a victim has chosen unrestricted reporting, they cannont change back to a restricted report. The victim may consider the investigative process and court proceedings too intrusive. Other people will become aware of the incident. The investigative process and court proceedings may be lengthy.

On every Army Installation, there are civilian Installation Victim Advocates who are there to meet with victims of sexual assault. The role of the victim advocate is to provide essential support and care to the victim to include providing non-clinical information on available options and resources to assist the victim in making informed decisions as they progress through resolution and healing. The VA maintains communications and contact with victim as needed for continued victim support. As well, each Army unit has Unit Victim Advocates who are military counterparts of the Installation Victim Advocate. Their role, is the same as the Installation Victim Advocate. Unit Victim Advocates are also deployed, to ensure that if a Soldier is sexually assaulted during a deployment, that they receive the same treatment and services that are available to them stateside.

To read more about the Army’s commitment to responding to and preventing sexual assaults, please visit The Army Sexual Assault Response and Prevention website. There you will find information on various prevention strategies that are in place, Army regulations about Sexual Assault and the punishments for committing this horrendous crime, guidance for leaders, as well as links for training and further information.

  1. policy_reg.cfm []
  2. what_to_do.cfm []
  3. what_to_do.cfm []


3 Responses to “Options Available To Military Victims Of Sexual Assault”

  1. Sgt, C.H. Brown on February 5th, 2009 10:07 am

    This is a good resource and a very good what to do list for women in the army today. Accordingly, the Army says these are some of the regulations that is put in place to help the service member, (Military Justice: Army Regulation 27-10 - Rights of Crime Victims, MEDCOM Regulation 40-36, AR 600-20: Army Command Policy).

    There is one thing wrong with this, there is nothing in this new AR-600-20 about women who were sexual assaulted before this new (reg) not updated according to the army, dated,(18-03-08) and was posted April 08. Did the Army do this to cover up past assaults or are they changing the policy compleatly, and not looking back on the pass assaults to give these women the same help as the new ones?

    This kind of crime puts a lot of stress on the women in service from the -early 70’s, 80s, and 90s which some were not taken serious about the assault. Today there are still women out here who suffers from the stress of that assualt. Do this change in the new regulation wipes them out or doe’s it inclued them also.

    If any can explane this better to me, please send comment.

  2. Terri on February 5th, 2009 12:41 pm

    The Army’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention program has been in operation for the past 4 or so years. Army Regulation 600-20 has been in effect since I began working in the program in September 2006, though it has been updated. Any victim of sexual assault who contacts the program, regardless of when they were assaulted, is entitled to services. The one thing I will mention though, is that if a sexual assault occurred 10 years earlier in a Soldier’s career, it will be very difficult to prosecute the case, due to not having evidence available. However, the Soldier is entitled to any and all services that are available.

    Keep in mind as well that the sexual assault regulations cover MALE victims as well as females. You’d probably be quite surprised at the number of male victims of sexual assault.

    The Army Sexual Assault and Response program is there to ensure that all victims of sexual assault who come forward and report the crime (regardless of whether they chose restricted or unrestricted reporting) receive the services they need. It doesn’t matter when it occurred. If it is reported to the program, either by contacting the Installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, an Installation or Unit Victim Advocate, a Medical Provider or Chaplain, it will be taken seriously and all services will be made available to the client. I hope this answers your questions.

  3. Sgt, C.H. Brown on February 9th, 2009 7:29 pm

    I ask again, that if any one can explane or show me where in these new or updated regulations- Army Regulation 27-10 - Rights of Crime Victims,
    MEDCOM Regulation 40-36,
    AR 600-20: Army Command Policy; to where and how do these assault victims report the incidents from-10-20 years ago. What has changed to these regulations that shows them, (THAT), this is a safe place (too) trust and not be put down as in the past for reporting such a thing as an assault?

    We have to remember, douring the VN War and the early 70s, and 80s intergration of women gained momentom in the armed forces. Our government did not fully protect the female solder as good as it does now. We as NCOs and OFFICERS must think back to that time and not let them be put down again.


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