FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky –
A new policy recently implemented by the Army is designed to help remove possible barriers that may prevent Soldiers from reporting sexual assault.
Army Directive 2022-10, Safe-to-Report for Victims of Sexual Assault, provides sexual assault victims with certain protections from disciplinary action for minor collateral misconduct that may be associated with the sexual assault incident.
“This policy is a good change because it may alleviate some fears and reservations sexual assault victims have about coming forward and reporting their assault,” said Ms. Tonika Rizer, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, sexual assault response coordinator.
Some examples of collateral misconduct listed in the policy signed by the Secretary of the Army, Christine E. Wormuth last month include circumstances when:
- The victim was consuming alcohol underage at the time of the assault.
- The victim was engaged in an unprofessional relationship with the accused at the time of the sexual assault. An “unprofessional relationship” is a relationship that violated law, regulation or policy in place at the time of the sexual assault.
- The victim was in violation of lawful orders establishing curfews, off-limits locations, school standards, barracks/dormitory/berthing policies, or similar matters at the time of the sexual assault.
“Alcohol is a common factor in a number of sexual assault incidents and as a result, victims who are underage may have reservations about reporting the assault because they are afraid of being punished for underage drinking. Regardless of whether alcohol is involved or not, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted, period,” said Rizer.
The Army defines sexual assault as intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent.
A SARC or one of their trained victim advocates is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support and assist victims of sexual assault.
“I believe the main thing to point out is if there are any concerns or questions regarding a sexual assault, speak with SARC or VA. We’re here to answer questions, provide information and clear up myths so victims don’t have to guess at what will happen. Talking to a SARC or VA is confidential and doesn’t necessarily trigger a report against a victim’s wishes,” said Rizer.
Victims of sexual assault may speak with a victim advocate from their unit, a victim advocate from their installation or a military treatment facility.
“Even if the victim is assigned to another unit or brigade, they may come to the hospital and make a report. It is not unusual,” said Rizer. Currently, service members have two options when reporting sexual assault; restricted or unrestricted reporting.
Restricted reporting is confidential and does not trigger an investigation or command involvement, but allows access to medical care, advocacy services, counseling, and victims’ legal counsel. Unrestricted includes the services allowed in restricted reporting as well as command notification and support, law enforcement notification/investigation, military protective orders and expedited transfer.
“If an unrestricted report is chosen, BACH SARC and victim advocate will work with the victim’s brigade in order to ensure that all required services and actions, for example, military protection order, safety planning, command notification, are completed. If the victim elects a restricted report, all advocacy and other services are initiated/completed through BACH SARC/VA,” said Rizer.
More information about new the new policy is available in Army Directive 2022-10. Members of the Department of Defense community affected by sexual assault can find more resources and information at https://safehelpline.org