TWO REPORTING OPTIONS
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) offers service members two reporting options: a restricted report, or an unrestricted report. This site offers basic information about these two reporting options.
A restricted report allows sexual assault victims to access services within the military, without triggering an investigation. This means you can get medical care, a medical forensic exam, victim services, counseling, chaplain support, and a special attorney for sexual assault victims. A safety assessment will also be conducted.
However, there are some things you can’t get with a restricted report, like a military protective order, or an expedited transfer. Because restricted reports do not lead to an investigation or prosecution, they do not offer a way to prosecute the person who hurt you.
A restricted report can only be made to certain personnel:
- Sexual Assault Program and Response (SAPR) Victim Advocates
- Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC)
- Health Care Providers, or
If you tell anyone else about your sexual assault, it may result in an unrestricted report and an investigation. This happens because the person you tell may be required to report the assault through their chain of command, or they may report it voluntarily. Or, military law enforcement may learn about your assault from someone else. In any of these situations, a restricted report may be investigated regardless of your wishes.
If a report becomes unrestricted for any reason, it can be investigated by military law enforcement regardless of whether you cooperate. You are not required to personally participate in an investigation if it was initiated by a third party (someone other than yourself).
With a restricted report, some information will be provided to your Commander. This information may include a general location of the assault (on or off base), the type and date of the assault, and whether you received services. It will not include your name. The purpose of sharing this information is to provide your installation Commander with information about what is happening in their unit. The goal is to help create a safer environment for everyone.
An unrestricted report starts the investigative process, which is the only way to prosecute an offender. It is also the only way for a victim to get a military protective order, or an expedited transfer. A safety assessment will also be conducted.
You can make an unrestricted report through any standard reporting channel:
- Sexual Assault Program and Response (SAPR) Victim Advocate
- Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
- Health Care Provider
- Law Enforcement / Military Criminal Investigation Organization (MCIO).
You can change a restricted report to an unrestricted report at any time, and an investigation will begin. But once a report is unrestricted, it can never go back to being restricted.
REPORTING TO CIVILIAN POLICE
If the assault occurred off the military base, or on a base with joint jurisdiction with a civilian police agency, you can report it to a civilian police agency. However, the military might still find out about the investigation.
For example, civilian police will often need to contact the military to interview people for their investigation (especially if they are deployed) or to access certain records. Also, if you get medical care or a medical forensic exam at a civilian facility, those health care providers might be required to report it to police. This means that even if the report is made to civilian police, the military may find out. For more information, see the topics of medical care and medical forensic exams above.
You can discuss all your options confidentially with victim advocates in a civilian rape crisis center, or at the Safe Helpline. You can call the Safe Helpline at 1-877-955-5247 or visit their website.