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Sexual assault reporting options: restricted, unrestricted

(Courtesy Graphic)

(Courtesy Graphic)

HOMESTEAD AIR FORCE RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- Victims of sexual assault seeking help may not know who they can talk to or what resources are available.
  

Sexual assault victims have two reporting options: restricted and unrestricted.

“I stress the importance of understanding restricted and unrestricted reporting because I don’t want a victim’s case to get reported to the wrong person as this may start an automatic response due to the reporting type used that may not suit their needs or desires of the victim,” said Veronica Sforza, the 482nd Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “Victims of sexual assault need to know the difference between restricted and unrestricted reporting to ensure they know what choices are available to them.”

In both reporting options, victims have access to medical service providers and mental health professionals; even victims whose assault took place 20 years ago can receive help, said Sforza.

”A restricted report is confidential. It enables the victim to report allegations of sexual assault to a SARC, a victim advocate, medical professionals or Special Victims Counsel without triggering an investigation.” said Sforza.

The Special Victims Counsel is a special victims’ advocacy program that provides legal advice and representation for victims of sexual assault.

“Restricted reporting means that the individual will be helped and they will receive services but their information will not be shared and the case will not be investigated,” said Sforza.

“When I am informed that a sexual assault has occurred, I meet with the victim and discuss their options for reporting,” said Sforza. “Then I help them get whatever services they may need.

Unrestricted reports are not confidential and happen automatically when victims report an assault to their chain of command, security forces or the Office of Special Investigations.

“If a victim uses the unrestricted reporting method, the wing commander, OSI and the individual’s unit commander are informed. Other leadership is informed only on a need-to-know basis. OSI will conduct an investigation and a no-contact order may be given,” said Sforza.

Victims who have begun a restricted report may choose to convert it to unrestricted at any time. However, once they make that choice the report cannot go back to being restricted.