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    Pendleton’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program provides support for survivors

    Sexual Assault Awareness:  Speak Up; Speak Out

    Photo By David Smith | Infographic reads “SPEAK UP FOR THE VICTIMS; SPEAK OUT AGAINST SEXUAL ASSUALT; To...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Shaina Jupiter 

    Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

    Marines are known to carry the load of physical and mental hardships of service with the help of their brothers and sisters around them. Unfortunately, Marines may have to look for a higher form of support if they have become a victim of sexual assault. To fight back and support the warfighter, the Marine Corps provides services with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.

    The SAPR program’s various services has allowed the Marine Corps to offer service members and their family members the ability to report a sexual assault and address any negative consequences that come as a result.

    “We are here to support victims whenever they’re ready to report a sexual assault,” said Heather Guerrero, the regional sexual assault response coordinator for Marine Corps Installations West. “Our program is going to be there 24-hours, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.”

    The SAPR program’s victim advocates understand that sexual assault is a hard subject to disclose and they want it to be known that a victim can contact an advocate and ask for information without filing a report.

    “It’s important to a victim who may not want to let everyone know what happened, so having that confidentiality is crucial,” said Guerrero.

    Survivors of sexual assault have the option of making their report either unrestricted or restricted. Confidentiality is held as a high priority in the SAPR program. Victims, whether they are military or civilian, have the opportunity to speak to a victim advocate and disclose their assault as well as any additional information when reaching out about a filing a report.

    “When a victim files an unrestricted report, the victim's commander will be notified by the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator,” said Guerrero. “Law enforcement will be notified and victims will be supported throughout the process.”

    If a survivor decides they want medical treatment, an advocate can not only refer them, but they can also accompany that individual to a forensic exam or other medical appointments related to the sexual assault. SAPR victim advocates can provide resources to survivors. Some of these resources are counseling at the Community Counseling Center, referrals to Victims Legal Counsel, providing them the DoD Safe Helpline information, or giving them options to seek services off the military installation.

    The Marine Corps’ SAPR program has recently made changes to restricted reporting, victims are now eligible to file a restricted report as long as they did not personally report the incident to law enforcement and the report was not previously unrestricted. According to Guerrero, reports can be restricted even if it was disclosed to a commander or personnel in a survivor’s chain of command, or if there is an ongoing investigation made by a third party report.

    The SAPR program has also expanded eligibility for Catch a Serial Offender, also known as the CATCH program. This program gives victims an opportunity to anonymously submit suspect information to help identify serial offenders. Previously, it was only available to survivors who filed restricted reports but is now open to victims with unrestricted reports when the identity of the suspected offender has not been provided to NCIS. Guerrero states that CATCH gathers information into a database to see if the subject’s name is involved in any other investigations.

    The DoD Safe Helpline is available day and night and is ready to provide all types of support, resources, and guidance to anyone that reached out. DoD Safe Helpline is a secure, confidential, and anonymous crisis support service specially designed for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault.

    “The SAPR program being publicized is giving victims the opportunity to finally share their stories in a confidential setting,” said Guerrero. “We want there to be a general awareness on who we are and what we do so that no service member has to go through this alone.”

    Marines and their families should be able to work and live in a safe environment where they feel comfortable and are willing to speak out if something is wrong.

    If an individual is a witness or was involved with a sexual assault, please contact 760-500-1707 to speak with a SAPR victim advocate or reach out to a uniformed SAPR victim advocate.


    Date Taken: 04.06.2022
    Date Posted: 04.08.2022 13:30
    Story ID: 417991

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