It’s 1 a.m. A victim advocate receives a call on the 24/7 line. The person says, “I have been sexually assaulted and I want a forensic exam.” “What do you do?”
This was one of many “what-if” scenarios that sparked discussions during a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program resource tour hosted by the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden SHARP Program Oct. 14.
The tour, facilitated by SHARP Program Manager Bill Mottley, provided an overview of the USAG Wiesbaden services and resources that can come into play when a Victim Advocate or Sexual Assault Response Coordinator responds to a case of sexual assault.
“VAs are trained to go into response mode, and when they do, they need to know how to get the resources they need to manage the case and support the victims,” Mottley said. “We don’t want that moment to be the first time a Victim Advocate is seeing the SAFE room at the clinic, an interview room at CID, or the inside of the court house.”
During the half-day tour, VAs from Ansbach, Darmstadt and Wiesbaden had a chance to visit facilities and learn from subject matter experts working with Legal Services, the Health Clinic, Behavioral Health and the Criminal Investigation Division.
At the court house VAs met Capt. Emily Lorenzo, Wiesbaden’s Special Victim Council. Lorenzo explained how a SVC can help VAs problem solve while working a case.
“Victim clients may decide at some point that they want their own personal attorney to help them through this process,” said Lorenzo. “We help explain the military justice process and any personal legal issues related to the sexual assault.”
At the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic participants were shown a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam room, or SAFE room, and were explained how to minimize any victim delays when a forensic exam is requested.
Participants also visited the new location of the Educational and Developmental Intervention Services. There, clinical social workers explained how behavioral services can benefit both the victims and VAs as well as the best way to set up an appointment when victims want to speak to a counselor.
At the Criminal Investigation Division, VAs learned what to expect during the interview process and how to best prepare a victim.
Staff Sgt. Aleksey Moiseyenkov, a former full-time Victim Advocate at Fort Meade, Md., explained why knowing the process is so important.
“It’s really rewarding to take someone from victim to survivor,” said Moiseyenkov who is now assigned to the 24th Military Intelligence Battalion, 66th MI Bde. “A victim is vulnerable and broken and they don’t know what will happen next. It’s important for victim advocates to know the steps and these briefings helped explain it step-by-step.”
“Everywhere you go it’s different,” said Rachel Phillips, SARC for the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade. “This tour helps acclimate new Victim Advocates to the area and meet key points of contact so they feel more comfortable and familiar with the process,” she said.
All SARCs and VAs received 3.5 hours of continuing education towards recertification for participating in the tour.
The 24/7 SHARP Victim Advocate hotline is (0162) 296-6741. The DoD Safe Helpline (stateside) 001-877-995-5247.