How Safe Helpline Can Provide Support to the DoD Community During Disclosure

The Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline is the Department’s sole crisis support service specially designed for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. Safe Helpline is secure, confidential, anonymous, and available 24/7, worldwide. The Safe Helpline staff provides live, one-on-one support to survivors, their families, and other DoD stakeholders. It is operated by RAINN through a contract with the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Safe Helpline recognizes that it is up to a survivor to decide how, when, to who, and to what extent they choose to disclose their experience. However, disclosing a sexual assault to a friend, family member, or service provider can be a difficult process. For many survivors, feelings such as shame, fear of retaliation, or pressure to formally report can cause reluctance to speak up or seek help.

For many survivors, Safe Helpline is the first step in a long process of building resiliency and healing after an assault. In FY21, almost 50% of Safe Helpline users disclosed their assault to our staff for the first time. Safe Helpline staff members were able to meet those survivors where they were in that moment and provide appropriate support and resources.

Safe Helpline staff can support survivors by providing crisis intervention support, safety planning, general information, resources, and referrals. If after speaking with Safe Helpline a survivor is ready to connect to a local resource, Safe Helpline staff can facilitate a direct warm handoff to the local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. For some survivors this warm handoff can help reduce barriers to speaking with local service providers for ongoing or long-term help. Survivors can find more information about warm handoffs on the Safe Helpline website.

The journey to healing and disclosure may look different for every survivor. For survivors who are not yet ready to disclose an assault but are interested in accessing information and resources, Safe Helpline is able to provide options that don’t involve connecting directly with a staff member. Safe Helpline offers a variety of self-care resources, including the self-care section of the Safe Helpline mobile app. In this section, survivors can create a self-care plan, explore journaling exercises, and use the calming coloring book feature. Survivors can also explore the Resiliency and Connection through Self Care self-paced educational program to identify self-care strategies for resiliency and healing. Survivors can access this course anonymously on the Safe Helpline website.

Safe Helpline is here to support survivors wherever they are in their healing process. To speak with a trained Safe Helpline staff member today, visit online.SafeHelpline.org or call 877-995-5247.

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