Sexual Assault Response Coordinator: Education is Key

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bryan Ripple
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When Frances Elmore, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) for the 910th Airlift Wing arrived here in September 2005, one of her first big tasks given to her was to provide sexual assault awareness training to every member of the wing by June 2006. 

Since she arrived here, Ms. Elmore has been busy setting up her training program and meeting local health care and law enforcement officials who would normally deal with sexual assault cases. Every day, she scans the local newspapers for articles dealing with crimes such as this. She displays a folder full of stories dealing with this subject at her training sessions, proving how widespread the offense is in today’s society. 

“I have a goal to ensure Youngstown Air Reserve Station is free of sexual assaults,” said Ms. Elmore. “We can take large strides toward attaining this goal through education. I’ve trained some people who had been victims themselves and didn’t realize it,” she said. “This is not just about rape.” 

Sexual assault is a crime. The Air Force defines it as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy (oral or anal sex), indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender or spousal relationship or age of victim. “Consent” shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the victim to offer physical resistance. Consent is not given when
a person uses force, threat of force, coercion or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, or unconscious. 

Ms. Elmore, who has a master’s degree in social work, says some victims are reluctant to report instances of sexual assault because they may feel ashamed of what happened to them or somehow responsible for what happened. She says that statistics show that one out of three women in the military have been sexually assaulted at some time in their career. 

Now, there are two ways victims of sexual assault can report what happened to them. The newest method is by using the Restricted Reporting Criteria which became available June 14, 2005. This option is recommended for victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling without starting the official investigative process. Service members who are sexually assaulted and desire restricted reporting must
report the assault to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), a Victim Advocate (VA), a healthcare provider or chaplain. 

Healthcare providers will initiate the appropriate care and treatment, and report the sexual assault to the SARC in lieu of reporting the assault to law enforcement or the command. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign a VA to the victim. The assigned Victim Advocate will provide accurate information on the process of restricted vice unrestricted reporting. 

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

Reservists or ARTs must be in military status when filing their initial report. DoD civilians or dependents are not eligible to use the Restricted Reporting process. 

Unrestricted Reporting is the other option available to report a sexual assault. This method is recommended for victims of sexual assault who desire medical treatment, counseling and an official investigation of the crime. Victims who had previously chosen the Restricted Reporting option may change their mind and use this option at any time. 

When selecting unrestricted reporting, service members should use their chain of command, law enforcement or report the incident to the SARC, or request healthcare providers 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, the healthcare provider shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination, 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. 

Unit members may contact Ms. Elmore by calling her office at 330-609-1930, or her cell phone 24-7, at 330-233-2100, or by e-mail to frances.elmore@youngstown.af.mil.
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