Reporting Options

The reporting process can be difficult. Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives, while others do not need to engage in the justice process in order to heal. Everyone is different; however, Marines Listening to Briefunderstanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared to make the best choice for you.

Under DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Policy, Service members and their adult military dependents have two reporting options:

  • Restricted Reporting
  • Unrestricted Reporting 

Below you will find additional information about both options including, eligibility, who you can disclose to for each type of report, and what the process will look like. You can also contact a Safe Helpline staff member to learn more about your options online or by calling 877-995-5247.

Unrestricted Reporting:

Filing an Unrestricted Report will result in an investigation into the sexual assault and the chain of command will be notified. You can also request additional protective and support measures like Expedited Transfers or Military Protective Orders.

Individuals who are sexually assaulted and want to make an Unrestricted Report may report the assault to a SARC, SAPR VA, healthcare personnel, a member of your chain of command, law enforcement, or legal personnel.

The SARC will be notified and will immediately assign a SAPR VA. Your commander will be informed and the military criminal investigative agency (e.g., Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), Air Force Office of Special Investigation (OSI)) will be informed, as well as legal personnel. As a victim of crime, you are entitled to certain rights and you have the option to speak with a Special Victims' Counsel / Victims' Legal Counsel or Victim Witness Assistance Personnel to assist you with navigating the military justice process and enforcing your rights.

Also, any healthcare personnel you choose to receive services from (e.g., counselor or nurse) will know. Details about the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know.

The SARC will immediately assign a SAPR VA, who will fully explain the available support and services, to include your own attorney. Additionally, law enforcement and chain of command will be notified.

Victim Witness Assistance Personnel will be assigned who will fully explain your rights throughout the entire military justice process.


Additionally, Special Victims’ Counsel/Victims’ Legal Counsel are available to represent victims in a confidential, attorney-client relationship, throughout the investigation and prosecution processes. They can provide information and legal advice, as well as represent the victim throughout the military justice process.

No one can order you to have a SAFE conducted. If a SAFE kit is an option for you, you will have to give your consent prior to having it completed. At your request, the healthcare provider will arrange for a SAFE to be conducted. While you are not required to have a SAFE, such an exam may result in the collection of valuable evidence that will aid investigators. You can consent to some procedures and decline others.

Click here for more information on the SAFE.


If you have a SAFE conducted, some information pertinent to your examination and the sexual assault may be noted in your medical records. Please discuss any concerns about your medical records with your doctor or nurse. If you choose not to have a SAFE conducted, but choose to have a medical exam performed, some information about the sexual assault may be noted in your medical records. You should discuss any concerns about this with the nurse or doctor.

The military justice process is the legal process within a military jurisdiction. The military justice process begins with an Unrestricted Report. It will involve witnesses, investigators, commanders, Victim-Witness Assistance Personnel, SARCs and/or SAPR VAs, and lawyers.

Each of the Services offers either a Special Victim’s Counsel or Victim’s Legal Counsel; these lawyers understand the legal process and are detailed to solely represent the victim and provide legal advice and guide victims through the judicial process. Investigators are contacted, and you will be asked to provide a detailed statement of the assault. You can have a SAPR VA or Special Victims’ Counsel/Victims’ Legal Counsel present during the interview.

Investigators are likely to consult with the lawyer representing the alleged offender’s commander. The said commander will consider the outcome of the investigation; seek advice from his/her lawyer, and make a determination on how to move forward. For example, the commander may decide to take the case to an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing – a proceeding to determine if the evidence surrounding the charge or specification warrants a general court-martial.

You may be asked to be a witness in an Article 32 Preliminary Hearing, but you are not required to participate or attend. It is important to know and understand your rights as you go through the military justice process. You may be asked to be interviewed by lawyers, also known as judge advocates. Judge Advocates may be Trial Counsel (commander’s lawyer and the prosecutor) or Defense Counsel (alleged offender’s lawyer). Since December 2013, judge advocates have been mandated to serve as investigating officers for all Article 32 Preliminary Hearings on sexual assault offense charges. Your SARC or VLC/SVC can accompany you and represent you at interviews by investigators, prosecutors, and defense counsel.

Learn about the UCMJ “Accountability” Process.  



Sexual assault victims have rights throughout the military justice process.

These rights provide for the reasonable protection, privacy, information, respectful treatment for victims and more as they participate in the criminal justice system. Additional information is provided below:

DoD law enforcement and legal personnel directly engaged in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crimes are responsible for ensuring that victims of military-related crime are notified that that they have the following rights:

  • To be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy
  • To be reasonably protected from the alleged offender
  • To be notified of court proceedings
  • To be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense, unless the court determines that testimony by the victim would be materially affected if the victim heard other testimony at trial
  • To confer with the attorney for the government in the case
  • To receive available restitution
  • To be provided information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the alleged offender


Learn more about the Special Victim’s Counsel/Victim’s Legal Counsel by Service.

Learn about the DoD Victim Witness Assistance Procedures.


  • Your safety is a priority. If you have safety concerns you can speak with a SARC or SAPR VA to learn more about the options and resources available to you.
  • If you feel safe, but uncomfortable, you may request to be moved away from your assailant by requesting an Expedited Transfer through your commander.


Service members who file an Unrestricted report have the option to request through their Commanding Officer a permanent or temporary Expedited Transfer from their assigned command or installation, or to a different location within their assigned command or installation.

For more information contact the Safe Helpline or a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

You may also request a Military Protective Order and/or a civilian restraining order. 

  • There are also rules against witness intimidation. Please discuss this with Victim-Witness Assistance Personnel and/or a lawyer.
  • Please discuss your safety concerns and preferences with your SARC and/or SAPR VA.

Restricted Reporting:

Restricted Reporting allows you to confidentially disclose the assault to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), SAPR Victim Advocate (VA), or health care personnel so that you can receive medical treatment, mental health support, and SAPR services.

If you file a Restricted Report, your chain of command and the perpetrator will not be notified, and there will not be an official investigation of the crime. You will also not be able to receive additional protective measures, like Military Protective Orders or request an Expedited Transfer, but you will have a Safety Assessment.

You may also speak confidentially with a Special Victim’s Counsel/Victim’s Legal Counsel, legal assistance attorney or chaplain about the sexual assault without triggering a report, command notification or an investigation.  However, none of these individuals can take an official report of sexual assault. 

Your SARC and assigned SAPR VA will know you made a Restricted Report.  Also, any healthcare personnel you received services from (e.g., mental health provider, nurse) will know.  These personnel have strict confidentiality rules, so they are prohibited from sharing your information unless a specific exception applies.

Your SARC will be able to help you understand the effect additional disclosures may have on your reporting options. Disclosing to a family member, friend, peer, or someone in your chain of command does not automatically prevent you from making a Restricted Report, unless they are in law enforcement.

Yes. Your SARC or SAPR VA can assist with accessing medical care and mental health care on or off base.

A Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) may be offered to you, and it is your decision to have one. Your healthcare provider can give you more information about the procedure as well as arrange for an exam to be completed with your consent. It is also possible to have evidence collected and stored anonymously though a Restricted Report. It is also important to know that you can consent to the exam and still refuse specific procedures.

Learn more about SAFEs.

If you choose the Restricted Reporting option, then your report goes no further than the SARC. You will be given a copy of the DD Form 2910 (Victim Reporting Preference Statement). This form documents that you made a Restricted Report. The SARC will keep a hard copy for 50 years, but it is important for you to maintain a copy as well, as it can be useful for accessing services and benefits later on.

The SARC is required to notify the commander that a Restricted Report was made to ensure the commander has situational awareness of their command. However the SARC will NOT disclose any information that might identify you, and commanders are prohibited from taking the information shared and initiating an investigation to try to determine the identity of the victim.

Yes. If at anytime you decide that you would like a criminal investigation started, you may change a Restricted Report to an Unrestricted Report. Please discuss how to do this with your SARC or SAPR VA.

No. However, if you have a medical examination as a result of the sexual assault, then some information from your SAFE may be noted in your medical records. Please discuss any concerns about your records with your doctor or nurse.

Yes. You may visit a Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator located at your closest Veterans Medical Center free of charge, and you do not need to have a service-connected disability to receive services. 

To learn more about Veterans Health Administration services visit this link

You can only make a Restricted Report by contacting a SARC, SAPR VA, or healthcare personnel. However, an official report is only taken by the SARC/SAPR VA through the completion of DD Form 2910. You can use the Safe Helpline Responder database to find your nearest SARC, SAPR VA, or healthcare personnel visit this link.


Reporting Options for the National Guard and Reserve Members:

  • National Guard and Reserve Component members can make a report of sexual assault to the SAPR Program regardless of when the assault occurred.
  • Regardless of your duty status at the time that the sexual assault occurred, or at the time that you are seeking help, National Guard and Reserve Component members can elect either the Restricted or Unrestricted Reporting option and have access to a SARC and a SAPR VA.
  • However, medical entitlements remain dependent on a line of duty (LOD) determination as to whether or not the sexual assault incident occurred in an active duty or inactive duty training status.
  • If you’re reporting a sexual assault that occurred prior to or while not performing active service or inactive training, you will be able to receive limited SAPR support services from a SARC and a SAPR VA and are eligible to file a Restricted or Unrestricted Report.

The following classifications of National Guard and Reservists can make a Restricted Report:

  • Title 32 or Traditional Drilling Status
  • Inactive Duty for Training (IDT)
  • Annual Training
    • Active Duty Operational Support (less than 30 days)
    • Title 10, Active Duty
    • Title 32, Active Guard/Reserve (AGR)
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