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Military continues sexual assault prevention and response despite COVID-19

Some changes involve moving from in-person interviews and information-gathering to electronics means.

NORFOLK, Va. — Despite the on-going coronavirus pandemic, service members and adult dependents who have been victims of sexual assault still have access to the services of a sexual assault response coordinator or Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) victim advocates.

They're available, 24/7 to help them report the assault, and to hold their alleged offenders appropriately accountable. 

"As the pandemic continues, we're making changes and hopefully getting somewhat back to normal with being able to provide that response," said Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Sexual Assault Coordinator Marie Reddish.

SAPR personnel can now take victim statements and get victim signatures electronically. Being able to still help people who need it is very rewarding for Reddish and the 43 SAPR professionals who work throughout the region.

"It's very satisfying when we see a victim, get them through the different steps from start to finish of any case, or any report, and to see them heal throughout the process and just get the resources that they absolutely need to help them in their journey and to move on with their life in the military or outside the military," said Redish.

In fiscal year 2019, there were 6,236 reports from service members of sexual assaults, up from 6,053 in fiscal year 2018.

Overall, the Department of Defense has seen a more than 30 percent decrease in sexual assaults from 10 years ago and a 400 percent increase in reporting.