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Library > Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response > FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find guidance on sexual assault issues?

ANSWER: Department of Defense Instruction 6495.02, dated March 28, 2013, implements policy for the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. The Air Force Instruction which provides policy for the SAPR Program in the Air Force, AFI 36-6001, is currently being rewritten.

QUESTION: Is sexual assault considered criminal conduct?

ANSWER: Sexual assault is criminal conduct. It also violates the Air Force Core Values - integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. 

QUESTION: What is the definition of "sexual assault"?

ANSWER: For the purpose of this Directive and SAPR awareness training and education, the term "sexual assault" is defined as intentional sexual contact characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. The term includes a broad category of sexual offenses consisting of the following specific UCMJ offenses: rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, forcible sodomy (forced oral or anal sex), or attempts to commit these acts.

"Consent" is defined as words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the accused's use of force, threat of force, or placing another person in fear does not constitute consent. A current or previous dating relationship by itself or the manner of dress of the person involved with the accused in the sexual conduct at issue shall not constitute consent. There is no consent where the person is sleeping or incapacitated, such as due to age, alcohol or drugs, or mental incapacity.

QUESTION: What are "other sex related offenses"?

ANSWER: Other sex-related offenses are defined as all other sexual acts or acts in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that do not meet the above definition of sexual assault or the definition of sexual harassment in DOD Instruction 6495.02. 

QUESTION: What is the definition of "victim"?

ANSWER: Per DOD 6495.01 Change 1, a victim is a person who alleges direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a sexual assault or other crime of interpersonal violence and who has a connection with the installation. If the victim is incompetent or incapacitated, the term "victim" includes one of the following (in order of preference): spouse, same sex domestic partner, legal guardian, parent, child, sibling, another family member, or another person designated by a court. Victims will be eligible for and provided services by the Air Force consistent with their legal status. The services contemplated range from referral to the appropriate civilian or foreign agency to the provision of all services available to an active duty member. Nothing in this policy shall be construed to authorize or require the provision of specific services (such as medical care or therapeutic counseling) unless the victim has an independent entitlement to such services under relevant statutes or DOD directives. 

What is the role of the installation commander?

ANSWER: The installation wing commander (or equivalent) implements local sexual assault prevention and response programs ensuring that an immediate, trained response capability exists to support victims of sexual assault. The installation vice wing commander (or equivalent) is designated as the responsible official to act for the wing commander and supervises the installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator - supervision will not be further delegated. The vice wing commander ensures the SARC is resourced and provided appropriate office space, office furnishings and supplies. 

What is the role of the Installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator?

ANSWER: The SARC reports directly to the installation wing commander (or equivalent) and executes the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program at the installation level. The SARC serves as the installation's single point of contact for integrating and coordinating sexual assault victim care services. Services may begin at the initial report of sexual assault and continue through disposition and resolution of issues related to the victim's health and well-being. The SARC shall assist unit commanders as necessary to ensure victims of sexual assault receive the appropriate responsive care. 

How can I contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator?


Option 1: Click on the "SARC Contacts" link above and locate the SARC closest to your location.

Option 2: Call your base operator and obtain the phone number for your base SARC.

Option 3: Contact the Military One Source for reference numbers via the Web at, via telephone in the United States at 800-342-9647, or via telephone overseas at 00 800 3429 6477.

Option 4: Contact the DOD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247.

Are there Sexual Assault Response Coordinators in a deployed environment?

ANSWER: Yes, the Air Force identifies trained military SARCs (and/or trained civilian SARCs who volunteer) for Air Expeditionary Force rotational support for global contingency operations. Normally, each Air Expeditionary Wing will warrant at least one SARC requirement. For deployments smaller than an AEF, deployed commanders must provide a sexual assault response capability consistent with the requirements of AFI 36-6001, "Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program". 

What is the role of the Victim Advocate?

ANSWER: Air Force Victim Advocates provide essential support, liaison services and care to victims of sexual assault. The VA ensures victims continue to receive the necessary care and support until the victim states or SARC determines that support is no longer needed. VA's responsibilities include providing crisis intervention, referral and ongoing non-clinical support, including providing information on available options and resources to assist the victim in making informed decisions about the case. VAs do not provide counseling or other professional services. 

What training is available on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response?

ANSWER: Training is available through your base Sexual Assault Response Coordinator to increase the understanding of the impact of sexual assault on individuals, the unit and the mission. This training emphasizes the wingman concept and the importance of the Air Force core values and respect on prevention, and to stress the significance of proper victim care. Training is provided to all military personnel and civilians on an annual basis at all levels.

What reporting options do victims have?


Reporting Options: Restricted / Unrestricted Reporting

Restricted Reporting
This option is for victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and services without triggering the official investigative process. Service members or dependents who are sexually assaulted and desire restricted reporting under this policy must report the assault to a sexual assault response coordinator, victim advocate, or a healthcare personnel. 

Restricted reporting is available to military members and their dependents. This includes active-duty military members, dependents 18 years of age and older, and members of the Reserve or National Guard component, provided they are performing federal duty (active-duty training or inactive-duty training and members of the National Guard in Federal (Title 10) status). If assaulted by a spouse or intimate partner, the assault will be transferred to family advocacy. Retired members of any component are not eligible. DOD civilian employees are not eligible.

At the victim's discretion/request an appropriately trained healthcare personnel shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE), which may include the collection of evidence. In the absence of a DOD provider, the service member will be referred to an appropriate civilian facility for the SAFE.

Note: If an assault were to occur off base, some states have mandatory reporting requirements which will automatically trigger an investigation. Visit the DOD SAPR website to see each states' specific requirements.

Who May Make A Restricted Report
Restricted reporting is available at this time only to military personnel of the Armed Forces and the Coast Guard. Military personnel include members on active duty and members of the Reserve component (Reserve and National Guard) provided they are performing federal duty (active duty training or inactive duty training and members of the National Guard in Federal (Title 10) status). Military dependents 18 years of age and older who are eligible for treatment in the military healthcare system, at installations in the continental United States (CONUS) and outside  of the continental United States (OCONUS), and who were victims of sexual
assault perpetrated by someone other than a spouse or intimate partner may make a Restricted Report.  Retired members of any component are not eligible. Members of the Reserve Component not performing Federal duty are not eligible.   Department of Defense civilian employees are not eligible. 

Considerations when Electing a Restricted Report
  • You receive appropriate medical treatment, advocacy, and counseling. ยท Provides some personal space and time to consider your options and to begin the healing process.
  • Empowers you to seek relevant information and support to make more informed decisions about participating in the criminal investigation.
  • You control the release and management of your personal information.
  • You decide whether and when to move forward with initiating an investigation.
Unrestricted Reporting
This option is for victims of sexual assault who desire medical treatment, referral services and an official investigation of the crime. When selecting unrestricted reporting, you should use current reporting channels, e.g. chain of command, law enforcement or report the incident to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), or request healthcare personnel to notify law enforcement. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign a Victim Advocate (VA). At the victim's discretion/request, healthcare personnel shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE), which may include the collection of evidence. Details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know.

QUESTION: Is restricted reporting available in foreign countries?

ANSWER: Yes. The installation's SARC, office of special investigations, and judge advocate office are now required to have MOUs/MOAs with local hospitals for procedural and reporting requirements when a military member is assaulted.

If I told my best friend that I was sexually assaulted, can I still make a restricted report?

ANSWER: Yes, as long as you have not told anyone that is in your chain of command or you have not reported it to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations or to the Security Forces. 

If a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is connected to a victim via Military OneSource, does the victim still have the option of selecting restricted reporting?

ANSWER: If a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is connected to a victim via Military OneSource, the victim still has the option to file a restricted report if the victim has not reported the sexual assault to the chain of command, Air Force Office of Special Investigations or Security Forces. 

Why have restricted reporting if it does not stop a perpetrator from assaulting again?

ANSWER: The policy addresses a subset of sexual assaults that have not been reported and, therefore, have been invisible to the chain of command for years. Moreover, many victims have foregone medical care to avoid being involved in a criminal investigation. Restricted reporting represents a rebalancing in priorities focusing on a victim's access to services rather than exclusively on offender accountability. The DoD has determined that it is better to treat a victim and have the command learn only that the incident occurred than to have a victim not receive any treatment and the command remain totally in the dark. 

Can I report a sexual assault if I am assigned to or TDY to another service's base (Example: TDY at an Army base)?

ANSWER: Yes. All the major Services (including guard/reserve components) have a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. Visit the DOD Safe Helpline website to find the nearest SARC.

Please describe what "punitive action" a Victim Advocate or Sexual Assault Response Coordinator may face for failing to protect a victim's privacy.

ANSWER: Punitive actions include courts martial, Article 15, discharge and letters of reprimand or admonishment. Sanctions also exist for contract personnel and their companies. Individuals can be removed from assignment and contracts can be terminated. 

Can the non-personal identifying information provided to command from a restricted report be used to initiate an investigation?

ANSWER: No. The information provided to the commander from a restricted report cannot be used to initiate an investigation. However, commands may use this information to enhance preventative measures and better focus training and education efforts. 

Who has the authority/ability to change the status of a report from "restricted report" to "unrestricted report"?

ANSWER: The victim determines whether or not a restricted report will eventually become an unrestricted report. Exceptions to restricted reporting require the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator to share only that information which is necessary to satisfy the exception and does not automatically cause a report to become unrestricted. 

What is the statute of limitations to change a restricted report to an unrestricted report?

ANSWER: The victim can change a restricted report to an unrestricted report at any time, even months or years later. However, the chances of bringing the perpetrator to justice generally diminish over time. 

What is an appropriate grade or level for a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator?

ANSWER: With the new implementation guidance, military SARCs must be in the grade of captain or above, and Installation civilian SARCs must be GS-12 and above. If a military and civilian SARC are both assigned to a wing, the military SARC will be the deputy SARC. In addition, full time victim advocates must be civilians in the grade of GS-11.

Describe the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator's interactions with command. 

ANSWER: SARCs must assist command in executing the goals of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and ensure that command understands their responsibilities within the program. The SARC will also support command by tracking sexual assault incidents, monitoring training requirements, marketing the program, advising command of any limitations in the program and suggesting possible solutions. 

What rights does the offender or accused have? Does the offender have the right to refuse testing?

ANSWER: Alleged offenders are afforded all legal rights contained in the Constitution and they are detailed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Once an alleged offender is formally charged with sexual assault, they do not have the right to refuse to participate in evidence collection. 

Is there a standard sexual assault evidence collection kit provided by the DoD or Services?

ANSWER: All Military Treatment Facilities will conduct SAFE exams using forms 2910 and 2911. Military Treatment Facilities are required to have an excess of SAFE kits on hand. If the healthcare provider is not appropriately trained to conduct a SAFE kit, it is required that the individual arrange for a properly trained DOD healthcare provider to do so, if available. Military treatment facilities will follow procedures according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women "National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams, Adults and Adolescents," and establish procedures with private and public sector entities for SAFE kits that meet or exceed the Department od Justice's protocol.

In regard to sexual assault prevention and response, are there consistent training standards for each of the Military Services?

ANSWER: Yes. Enclosure 10 of the DOD Instruction and Sec 585/586 of the NDAA detail training requirements for all military members, civilians, first responders, commanders, and mandate training at all levels of PME, accession training, and initial entry training. Annual training is required for all DOD employees regardless.

How do I prevent Sexual Assault?

ANSWER: Education and training are the keys to prevention. By creating a common training definition of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other sex-related offenses, each service member will have a greater understanding of which actions constitute which offense. By defining a situation and diminishing the gray areas surrounding these offenses, a service member's roles and responsibilities to prevent such incidences should become clearer. The mandatory training tasks pertaining to sexual assault prevention and response for initial entry training, professional military education training, unit training and command training will introduce and continue to emphasize a culture that rejects sexual assault. 

What is the Air Force doing to provide training on male-on-male rape?

ANSWER: Although there are lower reported numbers of male-on-male rapes than male-on-female, they are no less significant. The Air Force training does not differentiate between male-on-male, male-on-female or female-on-female victims and perpetrators. The prevention and response measures provide consistency for all victims of sexual assault. Regardless of the victim or offender's gender, the Air Force does not tolerate sexual assault of any kind.

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Air Force Chief of Staff "Sexual assault has no place in our Air Force. We live in a culture of respect. We cherish our core values of integrity, service, and excellence. But in order to ensure all Airmen experience and benefit from those values, we must eliminate sexual assault in our ranks."

General Mark A. Welsh III
Air Force Chief Of Staff

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