DoD Safe Helpline Raises Awareness about Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFEs) for Military Survivors

Safe Helpline is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) sole hotline for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. Operated by RAINN on behalf of the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (DoD SAPRO), Safe Helpline is an anonymous, confidential, 24/7 service providing support and access to resources for military survivors of sexual assault worldwide.

If you have recently experienced a sexual assault, you may be considering if a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, or SAFE, is right for you. This can be an overwhelming decision. DoD Safe Helpline is expanding the educational resources available to military survivors who are considering a SAFE. This animated, 4-minute video includes information on the components of the exam and things military survivors may want to keep in mind when deciding whether to get a SAFE.

What is important for military survivors to know about a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE)?

  1. The SAFE is most effective when completed within three days of a unwanted sexual contact, but evidence can be collected after that timeframe. To preserve as much evidence as possible, avoid showering, changing clothes, and brushing your teeth.
  2. You are not alone. If you choose to have a SAFE, you can have a friend or a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) there to support you. To get in contact with a SAPR VA on base, search Safe Helpline’s Responders Near Me database.
  3. If you choose to have a SAFE, you must select a type of report. In the military, there are two types of sexual assault reports. Unrestricted reports will prompt an investigation into what happened, while a Restricted report will not. Learn more about reporting options.
  4. You are in control. You can choose to stop or skip portions of the exam that you are not comfortable with at any time.

"After experiencing a sexual assault, survivors can have a lot of questions, particularly when deciding whether or not to pursue a SAFE. That is why Safe Helpline created resources to help survivors make informed decisions about their next steps.” — RAINN Vice President of Victim Services Keeli Sorensen

To learn more about the SAFE, visit SafeHelpline.org/SAFE.

There is no one answer or path toward healing for survivors of sexual assault. If you are a military survivor and want to learn more about whether a SAFE is right for you, contact your Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or reach out to Safe Helpline via our Telephone Helpline at 877-995-5247 or Online Helpline at SafeHelpline.org.

You are not alone. Safe Helpline is available 24/7 to provide the support and resources you deserve.

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