Marines

Safe Helpline offers many options to help sexual assault victims

3 Feb 2012 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera

When someone is the victim of sexual assault, the first thing they need to know is where they can get information and support. The Department of Defense Safe Helpline is a live, anonymous, one-on-one source for expert advice and information worldwide for service members.

"We want victims to know they are not alone," said Marie Brodie, the sexual assault prevention and response program manager aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. "There is hope and we will be there for them through every step of the process."

The helpline offers three methods for service members to get support. They can call the helpline at 1-877-995-5247, log on at www.safehelpline.org and communicate anonymously through a secure instant messaging format. They can also text 55-247 while inside the United States or 202-470-5546 while outside of the United States, to receive information on the nearest sexual assault response coordinator at their installation or base.

"(Victims of sexual assault) are dealing with a felony crime that has a devastating impact on their life," said Brodie. Victims may have concerns about their safety, have medical concerns or they may worry about confidentiality."

The Safe Helpline is operated through the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the nation, according to their website.

Sexual assault is a private and personal matter that a person may not want to discuss. Victims may want to put the incident behind them, they may fear being stigmatized, or some may be embarrassed by the circumstances surrounding the assault.

However, people who get outside help do better in terms of healing than those who do not get help, said Brodie.

While there is no typical result to sexual assault, according to the Safe Helpline's website, victims may suffer through depression, eating disorders, sleep disturbances, substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder and other physical, emotional or psychological symptoms.

The Safe Helpline does not record or store any call or chat session. They do not ask for any personal information and even if personally identifiable information is shared it would not be shared with the DOD or the service member's respective chain of command. However, the Safe Helpline is subject to mandatory reporting laws for each state. They also report any instances of abuse of children, the elderly, the vulnerable or the disabled.

Sexual assault victims have plenty of concerns to consider, but they need not worry about who to talk to in order to get confidential help.

The Safe Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach MCB Camp Lejeune's sexual response helpline, call 450-5852.