OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Responding to Sexual Assault Victims through Military/Civilian Partnerships
Hallie Martyniuk, Major Matthew Youngblood  -  2013/4/19
The chain of command is often a great impediment to victims of sexual assault in the military. Many advocates believe that an independent office, composed of professional investigators and prosecutors, would be less biased and more trustworthy. Why hasn’t the military acknowledged this and created an alternative system to protect victims of sexual assault?
1.  HallieM
 Although your suggestion has merit, one thing I have learned is that you are not going to change the system. What is important is to learn to respond to victims within the framework of the existing services flaws and all. I would like to point out that the changes are being made on an ongoing basis to address all impediments to services for victims including the commander issues. There has recently been a change made to ensure that a commander of an elevated rank (above an E-6, I believe) make these decisions.
2.  myoungblood
 I appreciate your input regarding this matter and would discuss further offline. If you can provide some contact information, I would be glad to respond. However, this is deviates from our topic of "Responding to Sexual Assault Victims through Military/Civilian Partnerships" and would prefer to address questions related to that topic at this time.
I am an AF Victim Advocate at a small installation (no SARC). Are there suggestions for opening dialogue (or sample memoranda of understanding) with local law enforcement or medical personnel to strengthen our program and ensure that the military authorities are notified of any military victims or victims of military perpetrators?
1.  myoungblood
 Kacey, I would direct you to the following DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) website link: http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/toolkit. Here you can access a sample MOU specifically tailored for law enforcement. I would also encourage you to review the entire site, as it contains other resources that could assist you in the day-to-day activities of a SARC or victim advocate. Also, review the new DoD Instruction 6495.02 dated 28 March 2013 here: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/649502p.pdf, which will provide you specific guidance on information you should include in MOU/MOAs on pg 35, such as Military Protective Orders (MPOs), Civilian Protective Orders (CPOs), as well as civilian healthcare and advocacy services.
Are there statistics available related to sexual assault/violence in the military?
1.  myoungblood
 Yes. Please visit http://www.sapr.mil/ to view the most recent annual reports on sexual assault in the military. The 2013 report has not been released as of today.
As a rape crisis center, what is the best way to approach a military installation about collaborating/partnering?
1.  HallieM
 I would begin by finding out the name of the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at the installation. That is the person who coordinates all services/responses to sexual assault and reports directly to the commander. A phone call to that person should be your starting point.
Do you recommend or encourage Funder/ Donor relationships for sustainability after grant funding money is exhausted?
1.  HallieM
 I see no conflicts.
2.  sl
 To expand victim services do you recommend partnerships seeking additional funding through personal donations or corporate donations? And how does that affect government funding victim services?
3.  HallieM
 I’m sorry, but I am not sure what you are asking.
With the DADT repeal officially over do you feel the probability of victims seeking help will increase?
1.  T.Spahr Nelson
 Thanks! Very helpful discussion.
2.  myoungblood
 MRE ຂ rule gives the victim the privilege to refuse to disclose, and prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communication made between the victim and a victim advocate, so long as the communication was made for the purpose of facilitating advice or supportive assistance to the victim, regardless of reporting option.
3.  T.Spahr Nelson
 How does the victim-advocate privileged communication change/impact the two reporting options? Can someone report unrestricted (for an investigation) and still have confidentiality with their advocate?
4.  myoungblood
 Restricted Reporting. This reporting option does NOT trigger an investigation. The command is notified that “an alleged sexual assault” occurred, but is not given the victim’s name or other personally identifying information. Restricted Reporting allows Service members and military dependents who are adult sexual assault victims to confidentially disclose the assault to specified individuals (SARC, SAPR VA, or healthcare personnel) and receive healthcare treatment and the assignment of a SARC and SAPR VA.
5.  myoungblood
 Unrestricted Reporting. This reporting option triggers an investigation, command notification, and allows a person who has been sexually assaulted to access medical treatment and counseling. When a sexual assault is reported through Unrestricted Reporting, a SARC shall be notified, respond or direct a SAPR VA to respond, assign a SAPR VA, and offer the victim healthcare treatment and a SAFE. The completed DD Form 2701, which sets out victims’ rights and points of contact, shall be distributed to the victim in Unrestricted Reporting cases by DoD law enforcement agents. If a victim elects this reporting option, a victim may not change from an Unrestricted to a Restricted Report.
6.  JL
 Can you explain the difference between restricted and unrestricted reporting?
7.  myoungblood
 Currently, we don’t have enough empirical data to suggest one way or the other whether victims seeking help will increase due to the repeal of DADT. However, current policy encourages reporting, either unrestricted or restricted, to ensure our victims receive the necessary care.
8.  HallieM
 Yes, I do. I think anything that removes a barrier to reporting is great. The military has been truly examining the many obstacles to reporting and trying to eliminate them wherever possible.
Which civilian organizations work with DoD and its branches to provide training on sexual assault prevention and content for the curricula? I'm only aware that RAINN provides the hotline for survivors.
1.  HallieM
 It can be downloaded from the SAPRO website at http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/training/training-civilians
2.  Celia
 That's helpful! Do you know if the curriculum is public? If it is, where can we view it? Does SAPRO make trainings available publicly?
3.  HallieM
 The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape wrote the curriculum, “Strengthening-Military Civilian Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault” and offer trainings to civilian and military audiences. They worked hand-in-hand with DoD SAPRO on these materials and have co-trained with them at national conferences. The OVC is in the process of doing a number of national trainings using this curriculum so that many more organizations around the country will be trained. You can contact either PCAR or OVC for additional information on what civilian programs have already received this training and are offering services to victims.
Are there any vital resources available that can assist Victim Advocates in working with military/family member victims (how to interact with them, do's & dont's, recommended trainings etc)
1.  T.Spahr Nelson
 That's a good question! I have a one page handout which is very helpful for survivors and loved ones. Just email me. Also, if you are a social worker, there is a free CEU webinar on 4.26 hosted by NASW and the White House/Joining Forces on Responding to Active Duty and Veterans with a focus on trauma-informed care. It's a primer for any social worker who wants to learn more about this issue and how to help survivors/family members with the latest DoD policies. Link to webinar: http://www.socialworkers.org/ce/online/lunchtime/lCourses/Default.aspx?courseID=a88dd101-2d22-4992-95ae-6fc45c4a276b&header=OFF
2.  HallieM
 In addition to Maj. Youngblood’s suggestion, I would take a look at the curriculum I wrote, “Strengthening Civilian-Military Partnerships to Respond Sexual Assault.” I was written for civilian victim advocates. There is a chapter on unique issues for sexual assault victims in the military which I think could be very helpful. Here is a link: http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/training/training-civilians
3.  myoungblood
 Yes. I think the most effective approach would be to meet personally with an Installation/base Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and leverage their experience with working with military servicemembers and their families. Another resource is the Family Advocacy Program aboard installations, which have vast experience with domestic violence. Some websites would include Safe Helpline, MyDuty.mil, and for policy concerns SAPR.mil.
How can the military bring knowledge about military systems, protocols, and culture to improve services for military sexual assault victims by educating other organizations on the specifics of military trauma?
1.  HallieM
 Your question hits the very core of our topic of building partnerships to collaborate. I am assuming you are on the military side based on your question. This may sound trite, but I would reach out to the rape crisis center in your county and offer to do staff training. I would also suggest that you invite them to come and do some training on your end. This type of exchange is a great way to open doors for future collaborations!
What are some of the unique issues that victims of sexual violence in the military may encounter that civilian organizations should be aware of?
1.  CDS
 Commanders lack the sensitivity for the victims their soldiers rape. They also do not respect the privacy, confidentiality and civil rights of the victims their soldiers rape. Sexual assault should NOT be handled by military authorities at all. Civilian agencies are more apt to care for the victim and seek justice...not just blame the victim and sweep the incident under the rug.
2.  HallieM
 I will answer your question briefly here and I suggest that you also take a look at the curriculum "Strengthening Military-Civilian Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault.” There is a section on unique issues for victims in the military. http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/training/training-civilians 1. The military is like family. When someone is sexually assaulted or someone is accused of sexual assault you may see reactions in the unit much like you would see within a family. 2. The deployment environment presents unique challenges such as availability of services and difficulties with privacy. 3. Victims cannot avoid their abuser… they see them everyday. 4. They cannot call in sick
How do you find out who the SARC and JAG are in Wisconsin?
1.  myoungblood
 I would recommend you visit the DoD Safe Helpline at safehelpline.org. In the top right corner there is a search function which can provide you that information by installation/base or zip code.
I understand that a sexual assault may involve both the community and military providers. I also understand that both parties must know how to work together to support the victim more effectively. But in your opinion, is it easy for military to readily utilize outside services?
1.  myoungblood
 Yes. And, in fact, the core of the “Strengthening Mi-Civ Community Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault” is to facilitate greater cooperation between civilian advocacy services and the military. Of course, this coordination or collaboration will vary from installation to installation. But, the establishment of an MOU/MOA helps facilitate a unity of effort and address our primary concern of providing care for our victims.
2.  HallieM
 Yes, it is possible and it really isn’t as complicated as it may seem. A military sexual assault victim can reach out to civilian services through their 24-hour hotlines or by making an appointment to see a victim/advocate at a local rape crisis center. They may request one at the hospital, as well. The DoD Safe Helpline also will put a victim in touch with local civilian resources. It is the choice of the victim whether or not they use civilian services. Accessing these services will not be impeded by the military.
Why is the military now deciding to reach out to civilians on these matters that the military liked to keep private at one point? How far is the military willing to work with civilians?
1.  Dy
 It's good that there has been connections already made and thinking about it more, it would be nice if every angency that helps with sexualt victims had a special trained counselor that would know how to deal with these special cases.
2.  HallieM
 Great example! Thank you. The reality is that a lot of positive things have been going on behind the scenes. That is not however what you hear about on the evening news.
3.  Kimberly
 I, too, was a victim advocate. I am now a SARC. In 2006 I worked very closely with my civilian counterparts outside the installation and on severl county and state boards. They welcomed the military as part of their community! This is not new at all! There just seems to be more attention to it now.
4.  Dy
 Thank you for the useful information.
5.  HallieM
 You ask an interesting question. I am a victim advocate specializing in sexual assault and have personally been working with DoD SAPRO since 2008! That may surprise you! There has been a lot of effort to tap into the expertise in the civilian world on this issue. I have found that the military folks who work with victims on the installations will welcome the assistance of civilian victim advocates because they recognize that it is only though the combined efforts of the military services and the civilian services can we really meet all of the needs of some survivors who are in the military. It may also surprise you to know that it is in a SARC's job description to reach out to the community based services!
Ms. Martyniuk, I strongly agree that people need to work in the framework of the existing services, but does anything prevent a servicemember who is a victim of sexual assault in the U.S. from going to a civilian prosecutor (e.g., a District Attorney) in order to seek justice -- regardless of the military or civilian status of the accused. The state prosecutor is part of the framework of existing services, but that prosecutor seems to be absent in cases of rape in the military.
1.  HallieM
 I'm glad you clarified your question. I has more to do with the location of the assault than the status of the accused. If a SA occurs on base, the victim can not go to the civilian prosecutor. Off base situations are more complicated and often are determined through memorandum of understanding between the installations and the civilian authorities. I would suggest that if you have a question about a specific case, you contact a JAG and explain the specifics of the case. Hope this is more helpful.
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