OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Sexual Assault Victims in the Military
Delilah Rumburg  -  2007/10/17
Do victims of sexual assualt in Iraq & Afghanistan have resources available to them in their units or surrounding areas? If not, what is being done to ensure that ALL victims in remote areas have access to rapid response to their needs?
1.  Marianne
 Thanks for all of your responses. I have really learned a lot here.
2.  Marianne
 I agree with Julie that many are not reporting and that not ALL units have qualified SA's. Speaking to a chaplain after a sexual assualt doesn't assure that the victim willdoes get services.
3.  Dani
 A DSARC is trained to continue the service I can provide while at home base, but in a deployed environment, in addition to UVAs to assist with the appropriate services available for the victim.
4.  Christina
 In addition to seeking services from a DSARC or a UVA, a service member victim can also seek assistance from a Chaplain, medical personnel, or a counselor while deployed.
5.  Dani
 Deployable SARCs deploy as well as the UVAs, therefore these types of services should be available for any victim to assist with medical needs etc. The response may not be as rapid as at the installation, but we have provided business cards in relation to contact information for the DSARC and UVAs assigned to their BCT for each soldier deploying.
6.  Julie Wilkinson
 In addition to this. I have been training Soldiers who are members of Training Teams (which are 1112 man teams) that are specifically located in remote areas of Iraq & Afgahnistan. After the trainings, I have had a number of Soldiers tell me that they would probably not report a sexual assault in such remote areas bc of the challenges in reaching a Medical Treatment Facility andor contacting an advocate. What do you see as the best response in empowering these Soldiers to seek such support?
7.  Liz
 All units are required under Army Regulation 600-20 Chapter 8 to have Unit Victim Advocates that are trained (40 Hours) to respond to victims of sexual assault and provided them on information on their reporting options and resources that are available. The units are also required to have Deployable Sexual Assault Response Coordinators that oversee the victim services.
8.  Delilah
 Yes, the military has a 24/7 response anywhere in the world including combat zones and has Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Uniformed victim advocates that are available to victims.
When the females come back they are harassed about the time they are off. It appears that the males do not need any therapy, due to non-acknowledgement, therefore less time taken time off the job. The victims I have encountered eventhough they are working for the military have not been signed up for victims assistance, and the cost is lost work, divorces, depression, and more. Automatically, the military needs to sign them up as a victim and coordinate their claim when they arrive home.
1.  Christina
 Because the military offers service members restricted reporting, I have noted that soldier victims who make a restricted report tend to have to make excuses why they might be missing work due to counseling and medical appointments. However, if a soldier makes an unrestricted report and thus his/her command is aware of the assault, I have found command tends to be supportive of the soldier victim and ensures that all resources and services available to the victim are offered as well as time off from work is offered so that victims can receive assistance.
2.  Delilah
 The purpose of Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) and Victim Advocates (VA) is to work with victims to address these kinds of issues. We have not received reports that the system is not connecting victims with treatment. If there are problems arising in the field, it would be great if we could learn specific details so we could figure out how to address them. Please contact the US Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention & Response office at www.sapr.mil. Click on contacts for phone numbers.
Are there rape crisis centers that have particularly strong programming with the military? Is there any data about how much survivors are using resources- on and off base and if so what types of resources?
1.  Delilah
 Yes, there are many rape crisis centers that have good, strong working relationships with military installations. Many of these were in place prior to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Policy. Visit www.nsvrc.org, tab NSVRC publication. There is a directory of sexual assault centers, which lists coalitions as well. In regards to data, we dont know this information. The SAPR office is tracking the number of referrals to services by the military in the upcoming annual report which is due to Congress in April.
The military policy "Don't ask, don't tell" has led to gay soldiers having investigations to know of their private lives including interviewing family and friends concerning their sexuality and many being fired on those grounds. Do you believe that the military policy in regards to gays in the military "Don't ask, Don't tell" has led to more sexual assault cases against gay soldiers? and Do you think the fact that their sexual preference must be kept secret has led to gay victims of sexual assault in the military to increasingly not tell of the crime due to fear of the perpetrator, of losing their own job, etc...?
1.  Delilah
 It is difficult to say that because a gay individual may not identify as such, that it has increased sexual assaults against gays in the military. Sex offenders are not a homogenous group. One cannot say with authority that all sex offenders knowing that sexual orientation must be kept secret would be more likely to target gays. It is true that rape thrives where there is a conspiracy of silence, to protect the status quo, whether it be in families or in institutions. As well, offenders do target the vulnerable, those without a voice, or with much to lose. Ultimately, my hope is that all victims will find a safe haven to disclose, receive the benefits and counseling they so richly deserve, and foster a culture of bodily integrity for all military personnel, regardless of sexual orientation. If a restricted report is made the member can receive confidential care & treatment. For more information visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) at www.nsvrc.org, under general resource tab click on gender base violence or sexual violence in the military. Additionally, use the library tab, search using military as the search term. Again use the SARC office as a resource at www.sapr.org.
Has the military culture changed in the US to conduct full and impartial investigations of sexual assaults? Who has the oversight of the Military concerning crimes committed against our men and women? And, why are some cases handled administratively versus criminally? Is this to protect the military commander's career?
1.  Marie
 As a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate, my concern for cases initially investigated by the military security and then handed over to LE Investigators is that evidence could be overlooked because of lack of specialty training. Do Military Security Officers get the same training as LE Patrol Officers or Investigators? These are just my concerns about cases that could be turned over to LE months (up to a year) after the crime.
2.  Delilah
 In the military, sexual assault cases are investigated by Military Criminal Investigators who conduct full and impartial investigations of sexual assault. The only difference from the civilian world is that in the military every case is assigned to an investigator and not a patrol officer. The Inspector General has oversight of the investigators.When a victim decides to make an Unrestricted Report, Command and law enforcement become involved. Unrestricted Reports can be handled by a wide range of options ranging from courts-martial to non-judicial punishment to adverse administrative actions. When possible and appropriate, cases are taken to courts-martial. However, the additional options exist for cases where a courts-martial may not be appropriate, either due to insufficient evidence or the desire of the victim not to testify in court. In many cases, the military has more options for dealing with allegations of sexual assault than the civilian sector. These decisions are not made to protect the military commander's career.
3.  Marianne
 I am the Sexual Assualt Response Coordinator for our base and the military has come a long way in their response to SA. The problem I see is that the investigations take so long and the legal process so grueling that many times, the victims back out and there is no testimony. If there is enough evidence, but no testimony, it can be dealt with administratively. It is not to protect commander's careers.
How often does sexual assault happen in the military? whats done about it? is there women who assault the men? when the perp is asked why they did it what is their usual resonse?
1.  Julie Wilkinson
 I'm not sure this question can be answered specifically. 1 out of every 10 sexual assaults is reported - this is a national statistic. Before working in the military community, I worked with a University community. I think the number of cases that go unreported are probably comparable. More than likely if there is a female perpetrator, she is going to perpetrate on children bc of their increased vulnerability. As a SA Trainer, I have had 1 male NCO share w me that he was assaulted by a female of higher rank, but did not report, rank and she being a female were to factors. When looking at the perpetrator thinking that the act was consentual, this is a justification in the mind of a sex offender. A good video to look at is The Undetected Rapist, by Dr. David Lisak. This can give you a glimpse into how a sex offender will rationalize in the mind about how the act was wanted by the victim and how target 'naive' andor vulnerable individuals.
2.  Todd Kubinski
 From my experience as an MP in the Army and a County Veteran Service Officer, I believe that sexual assaults happen more than in the civilian world. A vast majority of them go unreported for a variety of reasons. Most of the victims that I have worked with were male on male assault victims with male on female running a close second. I have not had any contact with a male who had been assaulted by a female although I am sure it happens. The two perps that I had contact with as an MP stated that they thought the sexual act was one of mutual consent.
Sexual assault against victims in the military is not a subject I hear about often. Is this occurring more often in the present? If so, why is the topic subtle?
1.  Toby Shulruff
 Earlier this month, National Public Radio had a five part series addressing trauma among female vets, with two parts focusing on trauma and sexual assault specifically. They cited 28 of female vets reporting SA.Links: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14921214 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15005484
2.  debsweb910
 Even in the civilian world sexual assault is not discussed openly. It has taken many years through grassroot efforts for women to come forward. It is still difficult, there are still barriers. I don't feel it is happening more rather individuals may feel safer coming forward but the military has a long way to go to catch up to the civilian world. Even with that being stated the world in general has a long way to go particularly with male victims.
3.  Delilah Rumburg
 There is no way for us to know if there are more sexual assaults. We depend on those that are reported. As in the civilian community we anticipate the numbers will increase as a result of outreach and training as well as the restricted reporting option made available.
What, if any, aspects of treating sexual assault victims in the military are unique to civilian populations and how should they be handled?
1.  Julie Wilkinson
 On the issue of collateral misconduct. I know this is a huge fear for someone to report. However, this is one of the reasons why it is so important for Commanders to be on board with the program and understand their responsibillities, yet each installation's climate differs. We have a great command support from the top down. If we have an issue w a commander and the way in which a Soldier is being treated - whether it be the Soldier is not being moved units/barracks rooms or Soldier is receiving some type of collateral misconduct or if the person is afraid he/she will be in trouble for fraternization. Whatever the fear, our Garrison Commander is on board with the program. The Commanding General or his designee (in our case the Gar. Cdr.) is key to have on board. I spoke with a company commander who has taken command within the past 90 days, so he completed the command climate survey. He has received responses that indicate his Soldiers will not come forward and report. So, in response to the surveys, he is having the SAPR training. So, if a commander can foster a safe environment, I believe in time more Soldiers will feel confident in reporting and hopefully some of the fears of collateral misconduct will subside.
2.  Whispering Owl
 Thank you. I have long suspected this. It creates a dynamic that has similarities to incest, i.e., the person who is supposed to protect you is also harming you.
3.  Stacy Johnston
 As a Navy SARC, I think fear is the number one obstacle to reporting for military members. It seems that they are more at ease once they know that COs will not fault them and will hold offenders accountable.
4.  Christina
 Collateral misconduct is also an issue within military culture because offenses that are not punishable in the civilian world can be under UCMJ (i.e. adultery, indecent acts, etc). Therefore, sometimes service member victims are reluctant to report due to collateral misconduct but will seek services if they can obtain a restricted report.
5.  Julie Wilkinson
 As a former Victim Advocate and current SA Trainer, I think something that is different about the culture as well is the fear of victim faces in breaking the cohesion. A thought process I have heard from survivors is, the perpetrator is/was someone that is 'supposed to have their back' - which mirrors non-stranger rapes in the civilian community. I see the restricted reporting option has allowed Soldier survivors to feel a sense of confidence in knowing that they can receive supportive services wo anyone in the unit being made aware. In some cases then the Soldier survivor will change their report to unrestricted once they have the support from a Victim AdvocateSARC.
6.  Delilah
 Military culture makes military victims unique. It is a self-contained culture and Military Members often live and work together as they train to become cohesive units. As a consequence, victims may be more reluctant to report sexual assault because of privacy concerns or fear that their military career would be impacted, even with the new Restricted Reporting option. When working with military victims, it is best to try to learn and understand the culture of the victim's Service (Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines), as each Service is unique and this may impact the victim's treatement.
7.  Linda
 Confidentiality and fear of reprisal are more unique issue associated with the military - I feel.
From our Victimology & Victim Services class... Ms.Rumburg, when assisting sexual assault victims in the Military, are they assisted in the same manner as in those outside the military (civilian population)?
1.  Delilah Rumburg
 SAPRO and the Dept. of Defense Task Force will be continually working to ensure a victim centered response. Victims have similar options as their civilian counterparts in terms of victim compensation, counseling and advocacy. The aftermath of sexual violence impacts all victims profoundly and similarly therefore, the holistic response needs to be uniform in both civilian and military cases.
From our Victimology & Victim Services class... Ms.Rumburg, which branch of the military has the highest incidence of sexual assault and any particular reason why?
1.  Delilah
 As far as I know that information is not available.
Is there any movement by DoD to recognize forensic nursing as a specialty? And wouldn't a military SANE nurse be the best choice for military SANE exams?
1.  Delilah
 We are not familiar with the specialties in nursing that are recognized by DoD; however, Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations should be available at all locations to all victims. These exams are required to be conducted by trained and qualified examiners. In some cases, the military signs MOUs with civilian hospitals or other entities to ensure that quality medical and forensic care is available for victims. Each installation is required to determine who is the most qualified to adminster the examinations.
2.  Dani
 Even though our post has MOUs with local hospitals to conduct forensic exams for Soldiers, I too believe it would be fantastic to have a SANE nurse on our post. For one our hospital on post does not run on a 24hr basis. It would be so much better for a victim to utilize this service on post. I have been trying to figure that one out myself. We do have a new MEDDAC Commander and he is extreemly supportive of the well being of our Soldiers SAPRP, and hopefully we will see movement with a SANE nurse at the hospital on post.
What is the quality of forensic evaluation/exam for our deployed forces? I'm speaking specifically to those members assigned to austere environments/shipboard/etc.?
1.  Delilah
 Conducting forensic exams in a deployed environment will always be a challenge; however, it is my hope that every effort is made to ensure that the quality is the same for those who are deployed to austere conditions as in any other environment.
What is the most effective training tool to use with troops? I'm the SA trainer and find that we continue to have assaults despite creative training tools.
1.  Paige Hamilton
 On the subject of violence prevention, can someone point me in the right direction on information and/or gaps in service delivery reg: child abuse prevention for military families/dependent children?
2.  Julie Wilkinson
 In units that are requesting training on a regular basis, I'm trying to think outside the box. I recently used Walking the Walk. The response was GREAT! I think the Soldiers having to walk through the shoes of survivors was very eye opening. I'm in the process of creating a training that discuss the rape culture...activities such as what are some terms for menwomen (that are degrading) the goal is then to break it down to how sexual assault is portrayed in our culture. Another training that I'm working on is a Bystander training. Dani, I really like the Barracks training...that sounds like a viewpoint to enter in to the reality of the issue.
3.  Dani
 At our post we have developed a training titled Barracks Safety, considering this seems to be the location of where more than a majority of assaults takes place, in addition to alcohol use. Command involvement is very important to assist at the proactive angle, therefore we have developed a command table discussion training for commanders whereas we discuss the trends as seen, and brainstorm with preventive measures.
4.  Delilah
 I would continue to use interactive, scenario based, small group trainings for the purposes of prevention and awareness training, utilizing the latest adult learning theories when designing training to ensure that the training is effective. In addition, the training should be military specific and conveyed in language that Military Members can identify with.Just as in our civilian world culture change will not happen overnight, training alone obviously is not the answer. We most continue to hold offenders accountable while being vigilant of policy changes that need to be made. We also need to encourage bystanders to become part of the solution.
5.  Stacy Johnston
 I just read a great exercise in a book called The Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz that I thought you'd be interested in (Pg. 2). Katz says to make a line down a chalkboard with men on one side women on the other. Start with men and ask What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Write their answers (wait through the silence). Then do the same for women. What he found is that men realize that their board is empty while the women's board is overflowing with safety techniques that we do as every day habits (don't leave drink unattended, walk with keys in hand, etc). He describes the exercise as life changing for men who don't realize its impact every day on women. I hope it will prove to be a good way to break the bystander barrier.
6.  Dani
 Preventive education is what we are looking to put out there for the troops, but as we see it does not always work. We have identified the risk factors at the post to show where the assaults have been occuring and factors involved. These facts are presented at each training for their information. We have also created additional trainings such as barracks safety and command prevention round table discussions to address the trends seen. Focus groups and at times gender specific training could be more effective.
7.  Linda
 Have you ever used any tools by Men Against Rape? They can be effective with military.
How are the relationships between the local crisis centers and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) on the bases? Have the SARCs been receptive to information about community resources and passing that information on to service members?
1.  Delilah
 Like all relationships, they are specific to the people involved. However, DoD encourages SARCs to coordinate and collaborate with civilians both formally by signing Memoranda of Understanding and informally. SARCs are encouraged to advertise community resources in such ways as listing them in pamphlets. Cross training is encouraged. In addition, PCAR is currently collaborating with the miltiary to create a training guide for civilian advocates working with military victims.
2.  Christina
 At Ft. Campbell, we work as closely with the civilian resources as we can and we provide info resource packets to all of our victims that we meet with. The Rape & Sexual Abuse Center in Nashville, TN (satellite office in Clarksville) has a 24/7 crisis hotline that some of our victims have used after hours when they are having a difficult time coping with an assault.
Sex offenders on active duty ... those that are housed on base ... are there restrictions? Are they monitored?
1.  Delilah
 See previous answer posted to kookus' queston.
We have had active duty soldiers being referred to our shelter as victims instead of being able to reside in their own homes while the non active duty spouse abuser stays on post. Why is this?
1.  Delilah
 I'm not sure why this is happening. I would encourage you to contact the Family Advocacy Program at that military installation. I would also encourage you to consider developing a relationship with that military installation and perhaps develop a MOU in order to respond effectively.
2.  Christina
 The military has a duty to provide housing to family members and their dependents whether through on-post housing or through BAH, and on-post housing is more for the dependents than the soldier because the soldier always has a place to stay in the barracks or with some one else from the unit.
How long should an active duty soldier have to stay working in their unit after being sexually assaulted by someone in their unit, before being allowed to relocate?
1.  Delilah Rumburg
 Active duty soldiers should be able to relocate immediately. They should immediately contact the SARC to convey their desire for immedite relocation. We understand that commanders have many options for response, including issuing a military protection order.
2.  Dani
 We try to assist with their movement as soon as possible. This is why it is important to have a good working relationship with the commanders and the UVAs to assist with this matter,
As a SA Trainer for the Army, I am in the process of creating new trainings for Soldiers. I am finding the more 'hand ons' training that is scenario based has been the best to get at the reality of Sexual Assault. In this, sometimes I find there are challenges in training a much larger group of 100+ individuals. Do you have suggestions on what you see as the best type of training these large groups?
1.  Delilah Rumburg
 PCAR has worked with APRI on a national curriculum to train prosecutors on sexual violence. What has worked with this training is dividing the participants into tables with an experienced faculty member at each table to facilitate discussion as well as to keep attendees on track. Use locally based factual scenarios to stimulate discussion and participation. Talk to JAG's about outcomes of cases so you can directly relate the scenarios to the intstallation.
As a County Veteran Service Officer for the past 7 years I have worked with at least 50 soldiers who were sexually assaulted while in the military. one of the most difficult aspects of working with these claims is that most of them go unreported. What is being done in the military to provide a vehicle to report these assaults so that the individual soldier doesn't feel that there will be retribution for reporting the assault?
1.  Vicki Majors
 I don't believe the Restricted Report victim would have the benefit of VA services specific to the sexual assault - unless he/she converted her report to Unrestricted.
2.  Delilah
 The new DoD policy on sexual assault has several protections for victims. First, Restricted Reporting was created specifically to address this issue. When a victim makes a Restricted Report, the victim is able to receive private medical care and treatment and advocacy without the involvement of command or law enforcement. There are serious consequences for violating the confidentiality given by a Restricted Report. Next, victims who are potentially facing consequences for collateral misconduct are protected because commanders now have the option to delay handling the matter until after the sexual assault case has been resolved. In addition, there are mechanisms in place for victims to file complaints with the Inspector General. Victims can also confidentially contact the newly created DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. The victim also has the option of contacting their local rape crisis center.
If a military member is convicted of a sex offense overseas that would register them as a sex offender if they were stateside, how is this handled? Are they returned to the U.S. and registered, or no? If no, how is the overseas military community protected?
1.  Delilah
 Generally, military members who are convicted of sexual assault are not allowed to remain in the military. Exceptions may exist, however. Currently, there is no overseas sex offender registry requirement for Americans; however, legislation is currently being drafted to address this issue. When a military member who was convicted in a miltary court overseas returns to the US, they are subject to the same laws as civilians with regards to registration. The issue of how the overseas military community is protected is currently being addressed with the pending legislation.
Can a victim who has relocated for safety reasons be assisted by the military installation in their area or does the victim need to go through the installation where the abuse occurred, where they have relocated from?
1.  Delilah
 My expectation is that the victim can go to the new installation who can collaborate with the old installation where the abuse occurred.
2.  Vicki Majors
 I would say yes. And the SARC should facilitate the process by making a contact with the SARC in the gaining area, or if the victim is not near a military installation, finding out about local Victim support services and counseling.
3.  Dani
 There is a SARC at every postbase for the assistance if needed. When a victim is moved to another station, the SARC from the loosing post contacts the SARC at the post where the Soldier is going, with their consent, to inform them of the needed continued care.
When developing a claim for service connection for a mental health issue related to an assault, a report isn't always needed to establish service connection. The VA will look at behavior "Benchmarks" in the soldiers service record to establish the benefit of the doubt that an assault occured. However, a documented report of an assault will greatly enhance the likelyhood of the claim being granted. Is there a way to obtain records from these alternate reporting sources you have listed for us?
1.  Vicki Majors
 This is good to know (about using the Restricted Report form in the event of a VA claim). My response to Mr. Kubinski was not accurate, thankfully.
2.  Delilah
 If a victim makes an Unrestricted Report, law enforcement, medical, and or other records should exist. If a victim makes a Restricted Report, no permanent records are kept. However, the Services are working to train Victim Advocates and SARCs to advise victims to keep their Victim Reporting Preference Form as proof that they made a Restricted Report. In addition, SAPRO worked with the VA to ensure that this form would be recognized as the form that is completed when a Restricted Report is made.
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