Are you a victim of sexual abuse or sexual harassment in the military? In 2019, there were almost 8,000 reports of sexual assault in the United States military. While it might feel like you’re alone, you’re not.
But what do you do? There’s a lot of stigma against victims of sexual trauma, even more so in the military. It can be an isolating experience.
We want to offer some advice. Keep reading to learn about a few things that you should do after your military sexual abuse or harassment experience.
For Sexual Assault: Immediate Response
If this was an event that just happened, it’s important to take several steps in order to start the legal process. If this is already behind you, feel free to skip to the next section.
Make sure to leave everything in your space as it was. Don’t clean up your space or yourself before seeking out medical help. Go to the hospital and ask for a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (otherwise known as SAFE).
Report what happened to the Department of Defense. This is a confidential report and they’ll begin looking into it while you continue managing the situation on your end. Then, reach out to your Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (or SARC). They can help you privately so you don’t put yourself at further risk.
Seek Legal Help
Too often, sexual abusers get away with what they’ve done. If you’ve taken the previous steps, you’ll have an easier time getting justice for what happened. It won’t be effortless though, and seeking legal counsel is important.
Sexual abuse in the military is swept under the rug, but there are attorneys out there who know how to handle this kind of situation. Rather than hiring a military lawyer, consider hiring a law firm that’s experienced in sexual assault cases. Don’t let yourself be pressured into picking someone who may be biased by the loyalty to the military.
Sexual Harassment In the Military
Sexual harassment in the military is still serious. No one deserves to be in a situation where they feel unsafe, and harassment can escalate.
You’re going to want to file a formal complaint. Talk to your SARC and they can help you through the process.
For a successful case, you should make your report within 60 days of the incident. Beyond that, a more thorough investigation into both parties will be held that will require questioning into your motivations for waiting and more witnesses to the event.
You should file your complaint with whoever is at the lowest level of command that you can expect an unbiased investigation from.
You’re Not Alone
If you’ve experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment in the military, you have support. You just have to seek it out. It can be scary to take that first step, but it’s worth it to get the justice you deserve. Remember, you didn’t do anything wrong and the other party deserves to be punished for what they did in order to protect you and others from further harm.
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