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DOD launches sexual assault response helpline

  • Published
Defense Department officials launched the Pentagon's newest initiative April 15 to support victims of sexual assault.

The DOD Safe Helpline allows service members to click, call or text for victim support services for themselves or others.

The resource is free, anonymous and confidential. Those who need the service will connect with live sexual assault support professionals. It is live 24 hours a day, every day.

In addition to improving victim care, officials designed the Safe Helpline to be secure and confidential to encourage victims to come forward when they might not otherwise.

"The underreporting of sexual assault poses a serious challenge to military readiness," said Clifford L. Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "We believe the Safe Helpline will provide DOD sexual assault victims with a variety of support outlets, which will lead victims to report sexual assault, seek needed information, and receive care."

Safe Helpline offers three access options designed for service members. Users can go to http://SafeHelpline.org to receive live, one-on-one confidential help with a trained professional through a secure instant-messaging format. The website also provides vital information about recovering from and reporting sexual assault.

A second option is to call the telephone hotline at 877-995-5247 to speak with Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support. Safe Helpline staff also can transfer callers to installation-based sexual assault response coordinators, on-call victim advocates, civilian rape crisis centers or to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The third option is for users to text their location to 55247 inside the United States or 202-470-5546 outside of the United States to receive automated contact information for the sexual assault response coordinator at their installation or base.

For more information on the Defense Department's sexual assault prevention and response office, go to http://www.sapr.mil.

(Courtesy of American Forces Press Service)