As an Army leader, what are my responsibilities when a sexual assault occurs in my unit?

Army leaders play a key role in the response to sexual assault in the Army. These leaders include commanders, supervisors, law enforcement personnel, legal and social services, and healthcare personnel.

The lynchpin for long-term success across the Army resides with the commander—for training, prevention, response, and accountability, as well as protection of the victim. For this reason, the Army has moved from a sexual assault prevention and response model that was centralized with garrisons and shifted it to commanders. Commanders who will be called upon to hold perpetrators appropriately accountable will have a full complement of tools at their disposal to stop sexual violence—education and information, prevention and awareness tools, and response capability. Lasting Army cultural change comes only with command emphasis; therefore, it was essential to shape our prevention efforts around Army commands, hold commanders accountable, and ensure victims remain safe from reprisal, retribution, and retaliation.

If you are in a position of authority:

Your first priority: care for the victim
As a commander, you have a responsibility to ensure that victims of sexual assault receive sensitive care and support and are not re-victimized as a result of reporting the incident. You have a range of command options available to help you fulfill your responsibility to protect sexual assault victims. As a commander, you should seek the assistance of your servicing judge advocate.

In order to protect sexual assault victims, you have the option of geographically separating the victim and the alleged offender. Commanders should determine whether the victim wants to be transferred to another unit. This must be handled in accordance with Defense Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 11-063 (Expedited Transfer of Military Service Members Who File Unrestricted Reports of sexual assault) and Army Directive 2011-19 (Expedited Transfer or Reassignment Procedures for Victims of sexual assault). By considering the victim's preferences and all relevant facts and circumstances of the case, commanders can avoid subjecting the victim to the "double victimization" that is sometimes perceived when a victim is transferred from the unit.

Military Protective Orders (MPOs), DD Form 2873, referred to as "no contact orders," are also an effective tool for commanders to maintain the safety of the victim.

Some Army sexual assault victims report being hesitant to report sexual assaults when they feel they will open themselves up for disciplinary action for offenses, such as drug or alcohol use, that are related to the assault. As a commander, you have the option to delay action on any victim misconduct related to an assault until after the investigation and prosecution for the assault is complete.

Your reporting and other responsibilities
Unit Commanders must implement and support the Army's Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Program. Commanders must: