Throughout the month of April, Coast Guard Compass has highlighted sexual assault prevention and response efforts across the Coast Guard and introduced you to service members who dedicate themselves to supporting their shipmates and community every day. This week, we’ve asked Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, to share his thoughts on the new Safe Helpline initiative that provides support to adult active duty and reserve members of the armed services and the National Guard. While Sexual Assault Awareness Month may be coming to a close, preventing sexual assault remains everyone’s duty and we encourage you to continue learning about sexual assault prevention and response and the many ways we all can make a difference.
Written by Scott Berkowitz, president & founder of RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
The Department of Defense recently launched a groundbreaking crisis support service for adult active duty, National Guard and reserve members consistent with the DoD SAPR policy and Coast Guard servicemembers. Safe Helpline, operated by RAINN, provides a confidential lifeline for victims of sexual assault that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide.
In building Safe Helpline, the DoD’s objectives were clear: the new service needed to operate 24/7, be accessible worldwide, and be tailored to the specific needs of the DoD community. RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country, is uniquely capable of meeting these goals and honored to be able to help victims of sexual violence in the DoD community.
Safe Helpline provides live, one-on-one crisis intervention, emotional support, advice, and information to the DoD community worldwide by phone and online. In addition, Safe Helpline is able to provide referrals to location-specific civilian and military resources by text message.
As we developed Safe Helpline, we worked closely with SAPRO (DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office) to provide a service that incorporates the latest technology and the best practices for helping sexual assault victims recover from the crime.
As the president of RAINN, I was excited to work with SAPRO, the Coast Guard and the other services to take this bold step to help victims of sexual violence. With Safe Helpline, the Department of Defense has made a landmark effort to provide the very best care and recovery assistance to those who need — and deserve — help. Safe Helpline is an important new bridge to the great help offered by Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) on each military installation and base.
Since I founded RAINN in 1994, the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline have provided crisis intervention to more than 1.5 million victims of sexual violence. That experience enabled us to utilize our knowledge and expertise to create a resource that would meet the DoD community’s needs as well as complement programs already in place. Safe Helpline is staffed 24/7 by highly trained individuals who are aware of the needs of the DoD community.
It is important for those who serve in the Coast Guard to be aware of Safe Helpline and know that it utilizes advanced technology to ensure that the service is confidential, secure and not tied to chain of command.
I am optimistic that with this innovative crisis support service, members of the Coast Guard and others in the DoD community will be able to access information and live, one-on-one support that will help themselves and others in the recovery process.
There are three ways to access Safe Helpline services, click, call or text:
CLICK: Visit www.SafeHelpline.org for live, one-on-one confidential help from a trained professional through a secure instant-messaging format. The website also provides vital information about recovering from and reporting sexual assault.
CALL: Calling the telephone helpline (877-995-5247) allows users to speak with trained Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support. Safe Helpline staff can also transfer callers to installation-based (SARCs)/on-call Victim Advocates (VAs), civilian rape crisis centers or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
TEXT: For referrals to nearby help, users can text their zip code or installation/base name to 55-247 (inside the U.S) or 202-470-5546 (outside of the US) to receive automated contact information for the SARC at their installation or military base.