WASHINGTON, D.C.–the Department of Defense (DoD) released a department-wide strategy to improve the way it provides support to service members who experience retaliation and to align prevention and response efforts across the services.
The DoD Retaliation Prevention and Response Strategy (RPRS) provides support to individuals who experience retaliation after reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment. It also applies to service members, bystanders/witnesses and first responders.
“Supporting those who make the difficult decision to report sexual assault or harassment not only upholds our commitment to them, but also influences others who may be considering whether to make a report,” said Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, the director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “Service members reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment should be able to do so without the fear of retaliation by their peers or leadership. Reporting the crime is the only way offenders can be identified and held appropriately accountable.”
The DoD conducted several data gathering efforts to capture sexual assault victim experience with retaliatory behavior in 2012 and 2014. DoD and RAND surveys in 2014 indicated that well over half of military women who experienced a sexual assault and reported the matter to a DoD authority perceived some kind of retaliation associated with doing so. In May 2015, Secretary Carter directed the development of a Department-wide strategy to address retaliation.
The RPRS aligns departmental efforts in combatting retaliation and responding to it with respect to (1) standardizing definitions, (2) improving data collection and analysis, (3) building strong and supportive systems of investigation and accountability, (4) providing comprehensive support to reporters, and (5) creating a culture intolerant of retaliation.
“The department is committed to eliminating retaliatory behavior, improving resources for reporters, and providing tools for commanders, supervisors, and peers to prevent and respond to retaliation against those who report violations,” said Clarence Johnson, director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity. “Ending retaliation is crucial to effectively addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.”
Members of the DoD community can anonymously report retaliation through a secure web form at safehelpline.org, which will report the incident directly to the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. Those who have experienced or witnessed retaliation also have the option to share their personally identifiable information with the DoD Inspector General Hotline to begin the official retaliation reporting process.