NEWS | April 25, 2012

Victim intervention - a support system

By Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Sexual victimization is devastating. Victims often feel shame and embarrassment and often blame themselves. These feelings can have adverse effects on loved ones, family members and even job performance.

Navy and Air Force leadership have set a fleet and force-wide goal to reduce sexual assault cases. One tool in place to accomplish this goal is the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, which provides clear guidelines to help victims through the medical, legal and investigative procedures and includes awareness and prevention training for all service members.

Each command or unit is required to have trained SAPR victim advocates as well as a base Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Navy commands are also required to have a SAPR point of contact who provides all the training requirements for personnel. A sexual assault victim can call any one of these representatives for support during their time of need.

"We want sexual assault victims to know that we are here for them no matter what," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Martin, Naval Support Activity SAPR at JB Charleston - Weapons Station. "We hold no biased opinions and we do not judge. Making a victim comfortable, ensuring they are medically cared for and letting them know the options they have as a victim is what we are here to do.

"My job here at NSA is to ensure that everyone, including myself, is up-to-date on their training and to make sure each service member completely understands what reporting options they have and how the system works," Martin said.

According to Martin, in the case of sexual assault, there are two types of reporting procedures: restricted and unrestricted.

Restricted reporting allows sexual assault victims to report on a confidential basis, disclosing the details only to their advocate or base SARC. A victim may also disclose information about their case or report to medical personnel or a chaplain and still have their report remain confidential. This allows victims to receive medical treatment, advocacy and counseling without triggering an official investigation of the crime.

Unrestricted reporting offers medical treatment, advocacy and counseling but includes an official investigation. Although this report is sent through the standard reporting channels, command, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, security, medical and the victim's advocates, details regarding the incident are limited to those with a need-to-know.

"By training our service members on the SAPR restricted and unrestricted reporting processes, which is very important, it enables our members to better handle situations should they ever find themselves a victim of, or know someone who was a victim," said Tiffany Mizzell, JB Charleston - Weapons Station SARC. "If a person doesn't understand the two methods of reporting sexual assault, it could possibly lead to being re-victimized, either by breaching confidentiality or the victim not having their desires honored. It is a necessity that all our service members are well informed about our policies and any updates to policies as well."

To reach a Navy SAPR victim advocate call 843-478-8615. The Air Force SAPR victim advocate can be reached at 843-963-7272.