Cultivating respect and accountability

Some potentially positive news from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program: The Fiscal Year 2016 Report to Congress of active duty members reported a 22.5 percent decrease in the amount of restricted reports and a 15.4 percent decrease in the amount of unrestricted reports of sexual assault made by women in the Coast Guard between 2014 and 2016. The number of reports made by men remained fairly unchanged.

While we all hope this decrease is indicative of a reduction in the amount of sexual assaults occurring in our Coast Guard, we cannot draw a definitive trend from the short time period.

The fact that we continue to have any sexual assaults occur in our service is still a direct violation of our core values. Every member is entitled to a culture of respect in his or her workplace. This culture of respect includes freedom from any harassment or assault and freedom from reprisal for making a report. We rely on all members to help hold perpetrators accountable and catch potential perpetrators before they commit actions inconsistent with our organizational values.

No Bystanders

Members of the Bay Area Chief's Mess hold letters spelling the words "No Bystanders" on the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton April 3, 2013. The Chief's Mess sponsored the day as Service Dress Blues Day to attract attention and begin discussions with personnel about sexual assault prevention awareness. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and during this month, every unit in the Coast Guard will conduct a unit Sexual Assault Awareness Event to inform personnel about how to prevent sexual assault and resources available. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie.

Members of the Bay Area Chief’s Mess hold letters spelling the words “No Bystanders” on the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton April 3, 2013. The Chief’s Mess sponsored the day as Service Dress Blues Day to attract attention and begin discussions with personnel about sexual assault prevention awareness. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and during this month, every unit in the Coast Guard will conduct a unit Sexual Assault Awareness Event to inform personnel about how to prevent sexual assault and resources available. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie.

To better empower bystanders and help eradicate sexual assault, the SAPR Program developed Coast Guard Bystander Intervention Training (CG BIT), a training rolled out during April and targeted to all units Coast-Guard wide.

The CG BIT is a 90-minute interactive prevention strategy that addresses the topics of sexual assault, suicide prevention, domestic violence, bullying, and hazing. Although not mandatory at this time, all commands are encouraged to request this training via their Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs).

Newly Revised policy

All Coast Guard personnel should be familiar with the newly revised SAPR policy. The SAPR policy has extended the unrestricted and restricted reporting options to active duty service members’ adult dependents. The policy also mandates involvement in the SAPR Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) by the SARC, the victims’ commands, the alleged offenders’ commands, Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), legal, and medical upon the receipt of an unrestricted report.

The SAPR CIT is activated through unrestricted reporting. An unrestricted report is a report of sexual assault made by a service member or an active duty service member’s adult dependent. An unrestricted report may be made to a SARC, Victim Advocate (VA), the command, law enforcement or another active duty service member. The unrestricted reporting option allows for an immediate formal investigation by trained criminal investigators and a range of protections to victims including military protective orders, immediate transfer or relocation, an expedited transfer, and other police and command protective actions, as necessary. Due to the formal investigation, unrestricted reporting may lead to offenders being held accountable for their crimes.

A restricted report is a report of sexual assault by a service member or an active duty service member’s adult dependent made to an authorized individual – a SARC, VA, or Coast Guard or Department of Defense (DoD) health care provider. Restricted reporting is confidential and allows victims to receive advocacy, legal counsel, medical treatment, and counseling. This type of report does not trigger an official investigation or command notification.*

What do you need to know?

(1) The differences between a restricted and unrestricted report

(2) The names of individuals authorized to take restricted reports

(3) How to contact individuals authorized to take restricted reports, and

(4) How to make or properly pass along an unrestricted report.

What should you do if someone makes a report to you?

The first person a victim reveals his or her assault to can make a significant impact on how the victim will move forward. If you are this first person, please simply believe the victim and help connect him or her with a VA and/or SARC immediately. When victims’ stories are doubted by people they trust, they tend to think everyone else will doubt them as well. As a service, we must continue to treat victims in accordance with our core values.

For more information on the SAPR Program, policy documents, SARC contact information, and the requirements to become a VA, please visit the SAPR website at www.dcms.uscg.mil/sapr.

* Exceptions to restricted reporting do exist and can be found in Paragraph D of the SAPR Policy Manual, COMDTINST M1754.10E.

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