How to Get Help: Online Helpline
The Online Helpline is a secure instant-messaging format that provides 24/7 tailored crisis support and intervention services.
How Can the Online Helpline Help Me?
Chat one-on-one with a Safe Helpline staff member to access the following support services:
- Confidential, crisis intervention services
- Emotional support
Referrals to both civilian and military resources in your area
- Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)/Victim Advocate (VA), Chaplain, Legal, Medical/Mental health care services, Veteran Suicide Prevention LIfeline, and local civilian sexual assault service providers
- Information on military reporting options (Restricted vs. Unrestricted)
- Information for family and friends of victims
What Can I Expect From a Session?
The Online Helpline works like other instant-messaging and online chat systems. You'll enter a private chat with a trained Safe Helpline staff member and chat live by typing messages back and forth. The service is completely anonymous and confidential — we will never ask you for any information that would identify who you are. You can feel free to share as much or as little as you like with us.
If you would like to receive a follow-up call to ensure that you were able to connect with the resources provided, our staff can discuss that option with you. See our info paper for more information on Follow-Up Support Services.
Who Will I be Chatting With?
It can be difficult to talk about what happened. You can take comfort in knowing that Safe Helpline staff members are trained to meet the unique needs of survivors within the DoD community. They are diverse group of people with different backgrounds and experiences, dedicated to offering support. Safe Helpline carefully vets, trains, and monitors the performance of all staff members. In addition, each chat is overseen by a highly trained Safe Helpline Supervisor to ensure all users have a positive helpline experience.
When you are done chatting with the staff member, you have the opportunity to leave anonymous feedback for Safe Helpline about your experience with the Online Helpline. We take these ratings and comments seriously. User feedback helps us to continuously improve the Online Helpline and offer a service that best fits our users’ needs.
What Have We Done to Make Online Safe Helpline Sessions Safe?
We have partnered with the nation’s top technology and online security companies to build a helpline infrastructure that is as safe and secure as current technology allows.
There are four key steps we’ve taken to give you the highest level of security:
We never log your IP address.
- An IP address is like your computer’s mailing address. Once you begin a session, Safe Helpline never captures this address, so we cannot trace a session back to you.
We don’t save session transcripts.
- Unlike email or instant messaging, which save data that can be accessed later, Safe Helpline does not record the transcript of your online session. Without this record, there is no way for anyone else to read the conversation you have with Safe Helpline staff.
We encrypt all the data.
- Every time you, or a Safe Helpline staff member, hit send, your words are encrypted using 128-bit SSL technology, the best available. That way, the text cannot be intercepted and read in transit.
You are anonymous.
- The Online Helpline has been built utilizing special anonymous routing methods that obscure the connection between you and Safe Helpline staff via the use of a unique code that cannot be traced back to you.
Is My Safety Guaranteed? In short, no. We have done everything possible to ensure your safety and anonymity, but we cannot guarantee the security of your computer. While we can’t eliminate every risk, we believe that we’ve greatly minimized the risks and made it as safe to use as the telephone.
What You Can Do to Make Safe Helpline Online Sessions Safer?
There are certain steps you should consider to ensure confidentiality and safety. These steps are particularly important if the person abusing you has access to your computer.
- If you suspect your computer is being monitored or is not safe, consider using a different device. Ask a trusted friend to borrow their computer or mobile device, or consider using a computer lab at a local public library.
- When the chat is over, clean your cache and history and then erase the cookies on your computer or mobile device, as long as you think doing so will not raise red flags or put you at risk. If you think that someone may be using tracking software on your computer, it is important to find a safer computer or use a telephone instead.
- If you are using a DoD computer, please be aware that the department may monitor your computer activity. We cannot control the privacy policies of the DoD.
For more information follow these safety tips.
If at anytime you feel unsafe using the Online Helpline you can call the Telephone Helpline at 877-995-5247 to be connected with trained Safe Helpline staff members who can help.
We value your feedback! Please let us know if the information on this page was: