DoD Launches Online Learning Program to Help Military Survivors of Sexual Assault

The following is a U.S. Department of Defense article released on June 12, 2017.

The Department of Defense (DoD) launched an online and mobile educational program to help individuals begin to recover, heal, and build resiliency after a sexual assault.

The self-guided program, called Building Hope & Resiliency: Addressing the Effects of Sexual Assault, can be completed at the user’s pace and features information about coping mechanisms, practical relaxation exercises, definitions, links to resources, and referrals for on-going support.

Research shows that some service members, including cadets and midshipmen, have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual assault prior to joining the military. According to the DoD Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, approximately 10 percent (556 reports) of total service member victim reports involved incidents that occurred prior to military service. In order to support these individuals, the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), via a contract with the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), developed and deployed this anonymous, self-guided educational program on the Safe Helpline.

The program’s development was directed by the Secretary of Defense in 2015 in order to meet the needs of the DoD community, including cadets and midshipman, who may have been victims of sexual abuse and/or assault prior to entering military service.

Recognizing the impact that trauma can have on an individual, this program is part of a comprehensive effort to enhance individual and collective resilience and improve readiness across the department. Users can take a brief, optional self-assessment to gauge the effectiveness of their current coping strategies and whether they may benefit from additional support and resources.

Knowing there is a significant link between childhood sexual victimization and adulthood sexual re-victimization and health problems, we wanted to help service members who experienced sexual assault prior to joining the military learn about topics like healthy relationships and coping strategies, and identify whether they would benefit from additional support and resources, said SAPRO Senior Victim Assistance Advisor Bette Inch. Being able to access this tool anonymously and from the privacy of your own room through the DoD Safe Helpline is key for many service members.

As SAPRO and RAINN continue to seek ways to support survivors, innovative tools like Building Hope offer a safe, convenient and private way to empower individuals in their healing journey.

Members of the DoD community who have been affected by sexual assault can access confidential, anonymous support 24/7 through the DoD Safe Helpline at http://www.safehelpline.org[http://www.safehelpline.org?source=GovDelivery] or by calling 877-995-5247.

Users can learn about and anonymously access the online program both on a computer and on a mobile device. To access the program, a user can visit the Building Hope page on the Safe Helpline website https://safehelpline.org/building-hope-and-resiliency [https://safehelpline.org/building-hope-and-resiliency?source=GovDelivery].

Users may also access the online program directly through the Safe Helpline app page titled Building Hope in the Learn section of the app. To learn more about the Safe Helpline app and how to download it to your mobile device visit https://www.safehelpline.org/about-mobile [https://www.safehelpline.org/about-mobile?source=GovDelivery].

September/October 2017