i have been sexually assaulted. what should i do?

If you have been sexually assaulted or think you have been, go to a safe location away from the perpetrator. If you want to talk with someone or want assistance, you have individuals who are ready to help. Make sure you understand the difference between a restricted and unrestricted report so that those you reach out to will understand your needs and can best assist you.

You may contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)/Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Specialist, Victim Advocate (VA)/ SHARP Specialist or healthcare provider. Your communication with the SARC/SHARP Specialist, VA/SHARP Specialist, or healthcare provider is privileged and confidential except in specific circumstances. While a chaplain cannot take a restricted report, communication with a chaplain may be privileged under the Military Rules of Evidence or applicable statutes and regulations when they are made confidentially and as a formal act of religion or as a matter of conscience. Chaplains may not disclose a confidential or privileged communication revealed in the practice of their ministry without the individual's informed consent.

You may also contact your chain of command or law enforcement (military or civilian); however, if you contact your chain of command or law enforcement, an investigation will occur, and you will not have the option of making a restricted report (see below). Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if, like many sexual assault victims, you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of becoming pregnant or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. Ask the healthcare provider to conduct a sexual assault forensic examination to preserve forensic evidence in case you decide later that you want to file an unrestricted report of sexual assault which may lead to prosecution. If you suspect you may have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected. Preserve all evidence of the assault. Even if you feel an intense need to clean yourself, do not bathe, wash your hands, eat, drink, or brush your teeth. Do not clean or straighten up the crime scene. You may not be thinking clearly due to the trauma, so taking these steps at the outset will help preserve evidence that investigators or law enforcement personnel may need to collect in the event that you file an unrestricted report.

Search the SARC/SHARP Roster for Contact Information.

You can also receive 24/7 anonymous assistance at the DOD SAFE Helpline
at 877-995-5247