Family Programs
New sexual assault victim support helpline launched: Guardsmen now have two venues for assistance 
Colorado National Guard Public Affairs 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Army Maj. Elisa Englert

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (4/2/11) – The Department of Defense recently launched its newest initiative to support victims of sexual assault.

Using the Safe Helpline, adult service members of the DOD community, to include Colorado Army and Air National Guard members, can click, call or text for victim support services for themselves or others.

The free, anonymous and confidential resource can be accessed 24/7 worldwide to connect with live sexual assault support professionals.

The DOD’s Safe Helpline is an additional resource to the Colorado National Guard’s existing 24/7 Sexual Assault Helpline, 720-847-SARC/7272.

“While we encourage our members to report sexual assaults to us directly and confidentially, we understand how stressful and intimidating it might feel,” said Army Maj. Alisa Englert, the CONG’s sexual assault response coordinator. “Access to the DOD’s Safe Helpline is an additional resource intended to encourage victims to come forward who might not otherwise.

“As a community-based organization, we're asking our communities to help us get the word out so that military members who are victims of sexual assault can ask for help safely and confidentially,” said Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, the adjutant General of Colorado. “Sexual assault takes a horrible toll on victims. As commander of more than 5,500 Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen in our state, it's critical we all take part in prevention. Considering the significant increase in deployments since 9/11, it's more important than ever not to let our Guard down.”

Designed for adult service members of the DOD community, Safe Helpline offers three access options. Users can log on to www.safehelpline.org to receive live, one-on-one confidential help with a trained professional through a secure instant-messaging format. The website also provides vital information about reporting and recovering from sexual assault.

A second option is to call the telephone hotline (877-995-5247) to speak with Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support. Safe Helpline staff can also transfer callers to installation-based Sexual Assault Response Coordinators/On-call Victim Advocates, civilian rape crisis centers or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The third option is for users to text their location to 55-247 inside the U.S. or 202-470-5546 outside the U.S. to receive automated contact information for the SARC at their installation or base.

The DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office drew on a wide variety of input to design the program’s features.

“We know from our research with Service members that they wanted a variety of options to access live sexual assault support,” said Dr. Kaye Whitley, SAPRO director. “Since our service members are located around the world, this program needed to be accessible from anywhere and at anytime. Plus, it was important that this be a confidential, anonymous and free service.”

SAPRO has entered into a contractual agreement with the non-profit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to operate this effort. RAINN staff supporting Safe Helpline has been trained on the unique needs of those living and working in the DOD community.


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