FORT LEE, Va. (March 31, 2011) -- Through education and outreach, Fort Lee has cut its sexual assault reports nearly in half even while the installation population increases.
In fiscal 2009, the reported assaults were 46; in fiscal 2010, the number was at 25; and this year the installation is on track to continue to decrease reported assaults, said Krystle Dandridge, Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program Installation Victim Advocate.
Numerous briefings and training sessions are held at unit and command levels to help accomplish this goal, said Dandridge.
"We're doing the education and prevention part of it - we're out there all the time," she said. "When the advanced individual training Soldiers come in, we're seeing them. We do annual unit briefs, and some units call us for quarterly briefings. If they call us, we will come. Everyone on this post gets a briefing by us."
Dandridge said the briefings are helpful in reducing the reported claims.
"Our education outreach also serves as a deterrent," said Dandridge. "It teaches the service members to look out for each other - to look out for their battle buddies. When we do our briefings, we also tell them what could happen if they are an offender. It teaches prevention, but also shows the consequences."
Dandridge said there is a lot of support for the victims and the Installation Victim Advocate program all across the post.
"We have a joint effort while working with the command," said Dandridge. "The victim gets support all across the board."
April is Sexual Assault Prevention Month, and several events are planned to renew the focus on sexual assault prevention. A display at the Soldier Support Center was provided by the Virginia Domestic Violence/Sexual Violence Action Alliance. It shows works (poetry, short stories) by victims and will be up throughout the month.
On Friday each week, one of the military services on post is sponsoring a run. The Army is hosting a run at 4 p.m. on Friday (April 1); the Navy is hosting a run at 5:30 a.m. April 8; the Marine Corps is hosting a run at 5:30 a.m. April 15; and the Air Force is hosting a run 4 p.m., April 22.
A hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is ideal to use while reporting a sexual assault incident. There are two types of reporting, restricted and unrestricted, and by calling the hotline, the victim will be educated on the types of reports they can use.
Restricted reporting is a confidential way to receive medical treatment and counseling without requiring an investigation. For the incident to be considered restricted, the victim must call Dandridge (through the hotline or her office), a Sexual Assault Response coordinator, a unit victim advocate, a Department of Defense health care provider or a chaplain.
Unrestricted reporting can be done through the installation victim advocate, SARC, UVA, chain of command, Military Onesource or law enforcement. Victims receive medical care and counseling, and an investigation will be conducted.
Dandridge said victims can choose to go unrestricted at any time, and by calling one of the personnel from the restricted listed first, they can choose which method is better for their situation.
After reporting, the goal is to guide the victim through the process, said Dandridge. Victims are escorted through the medical, investigative or legal steps, depending on which steps they require.
The Fort Lee sexual assault hotline is (804) 894-0029.