Restricted or unrestricted reporting? No Service member anticipates becoming a victim of sexual assault – and deciding to file a report (in addition to having experienced assault) is an already stressful, emotionally taxing task. Your Service members need to know what options and support are available to them.
Sexual assault is the most underreported crime in society and in the military, according to the Department of Defense (DoD).DoD’s first priority is for victims to be treated with dignity and respect and to receive the medical treatment, mental health counseling and advocacy services that they deserve.
Option 1: Restricted ReportingRestricted reporting allows Service members to confidentially report allegations of sexual assault to specified personnel without triggering an investigation. This reporting option is intended to remove barriers to medical care and support while giving the victim additional time and increased control over the release and management of personal information.
BenefitsVictim receives health care and advocacy as soon as possible. Provides space and time to consider options and to begin healing. Empowers the victim to seek information and support to make informed decisions and to get legal advice. Victim controls the release of their personal information. Victim decides whether and when to initiate an investigation.
LimitationsThe assailant cannot be held accountable. Victim cannot request a Military Protective Order (MPO) or an Expedited Transfer. Victim may continue to have contact with the assailant. Evidence from the crime scene will be lost, and any future investigation will likely encounter obstacles. Discussing the assault with friends or family could jeopardize the restricted report.
For more information about restricted reporting, visit DoD’s website.
Option 2: Unrestricted ReportingAny report of a sexual assault made through normal reporting channels, including the victim’s chain of command, law enforcement or other criminal investigative service, is considered an unrestricted report. Likewise, any report of sexual assault made through a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), SAPR Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) or health care personnel by individuals who are not eligible for restricted reporting will be treated as an unrestricted report. Then the individual who received the report will notify the SARC, who will assign a VA if the individual wants one.
BenefitsVictim feels a sense of closure or healing. Military can hold the offender appropriately accountable. Victim may request an MPO and/or an Expedited Transfer.
LimitationsVictim may consider investigation or legal process too intrusive. Assault will be known and discussed among those with a need to know. Investigation and court proceedings may be lengthy (~6-18 months or longer).
Learn more about unrestricted reporting by visiting DoD’s website.For immediate, 24/7, confidential and anonymous support, contact the DoD Safe Helpline by phone at 877-995-5247, online or through their app. For more information on our Military Life and Health and Wellness products, browse the Quickseries® library of guides, including Military Sexual Trauma.