Experiencing retaliation after reporting a sexual assault can be as traumatic as the assault itself. It takes courage to make a sexual assault report and to share what happened to you with others. Survivors in minority groups, including survivors of color and survivors who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+), may have additional concerns about retaliation.
No one deserves to experience retaliation for reporting a heinous crime, and there are legal measures in place to support and protect you if this has occurred or is still occurring. Safe Helpline staff are always available to discuss any concerns you may have about retaliation and can help explore different resources that can provide assistance.
What is Retaliation?
The term retaliation can cover a wide range of behaviors. To establish a common understanding DoD-wide, the Department of Defense developed a standardized definition of retaliation to describe the full spectrum of retaliation-related behaviors involving sexual assault and harassment in its Retaliation Prevention and Response Strategy.
It is important to remember that even if you are not sure whether what you have experienced is retaliation, help and support are still available. Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs), Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocates (SAPR VAs), and Special Victims’ Counsel/ Victims’ Legal Counsel (SVC/VLCs) can provide you with information and education materials to familiarize you with retaliation processes and reporting procedures. To connect with any of these responders, use the Safe Helpline Responders Near Me database. Safe Helpline staff can help explain the different options and resources available, provide support, and help you develop a plan to stay safe if needed. You can connect with Safe Helpline staff via the Telephone Helpline at 877-995-5247 or the Online Helpline.
Who can formally report retaliation?
DoD's Retaliation Prevention and Response Strategy provides guidance on retaliation related to the reporting of a sexual assault by Service members, victims and their family members, bystanders who intervened, witnesses, SARCs and SAPR VAs, and first responders.
How can I report retaliation?
There are a number of ways you can report concerns about retaliation. In addition, the recent Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military recommended in their final report a “No Wrong Door” approach to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic abuse across the Services and NGB. This ensures that service members that need assistance can get the help they need no matter where they ask for it. Although a retaliation report (DD Form 2910-2) can only be completed by a SARC or SAPR VA, all the resources listed below can provide additional assistance and support throughout the process. In addition, if you feel comfortable, you can also always connect directly with a Commander in your chain of command or outside your chain of command to discuss concerns about retaliation.