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Online program to help military survivors of sexual abuse, assault

By | DOD NEWS, DEFENSE MEDIA ACTIVITY | June 26, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department launched an online and mobile educational program June 12 to help individuals begin to recover, heal and build resiliency after a sexual assault.

     The self-guided program, called, “Building Hope and Resiliency: Ad­dressing the Effects of Sexual Assault,” can be completed at the user’s pace and features information about coping mechanisms, practical relaxation ex­ercises, definitions, links to resources and referrals for ongoing support.

     Research shows that some service members, including cadets and mid­shipmen, have experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault prior to joining the military. According to the DOD fiscal year 2016 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, approx­imately ten percent, or 556 reports, of total service member victim reports in­volved incidents that occurred prior to military service.

 

SUPPORTING VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE, ASSAULT

     In order to support these individu­als, the DOD Sexual Assault Preven­tion and Response Office, via a con­tract with the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, developed and deployed this anonymous, self-guid­ed educational program on the Safe Helpline.

     The program’s development was directed by the secretary of defense in 2015 in order to meet the needs of the DOD community, including cadets and midshipman, who may have been victims of sexual abuse or assault prior to entering military service.

     Recognizing the impact that trau­ma can have on an individual, this program is part of a comprehensive effort to enhance individual and col­lective resilience and improve readi­ness across the department. Users can take a brief, optional self-assessment to gauge the effectiveness of current cop­ing strategies and if they may benefit from additional support and resources.

     “Knowing there is a significant link between childhood sexual vic­timization and adulthood sexual re-victimization and health problems, we wanted to help service members who experienced sexual assault prior to joining the military learn about topics like healthy relationships and coping strategies, and identify whether they would benefit from additional support and resources,” said Bette Inch, senior victim assistance advisor at SAPRO.

     “Being able to access this tool anon­ymously and from the privacy of your own room through the SHL is key for many service members,” Inch added.

 

INNOVATIVE TOOLS

     As SAPRO and RAINN continue to seek ways to support survivors, in­novative tools like Building Hope of­fer a safe, convenient and private way to empower individuals in their heal­ing journey.

     Members of the DOD community who have been affected by sexual as­sault can access confidential, anony­mous support 24/7, through the DOD Safe Helpline at safehelpline.org/ or by calling 877-995-5247.

     Users can learn about and anony­mously access the online program both on a computer and on a mo­bile device. To access the program, a user can visit the Building Hope page on the Safe Helpline website, safehelpline.org/building-hope-and-resiliency.

     Users can also access the online program directly through the Safe Helpline app page titled, “Building Hope” in the “Learn” section of the app. To learn more about the Safe Helpline app and how to download it to your mobile device, visit www.safehelpline.org/about-mobile.

     For local assistance, contact the Fort Riley Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program representative at 785-239-2277 or 3379.