My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 2, 2021

Care, Inform, Ask: New resource to support victims of assault  

 Allies committed to the Coast Guard’s effort to eliminate harassment and assault have a new resource in their toolkit when responding to a shipmate in distress. The Confide in Another (CIA) card provides actionable next steps to prepare and respond in instances when a servicemember reaches out, looking for support. 

Victim Advocate Program Specialists and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) staff will have resources available to distribute hard copies of the card, and the information can be downloaded or printed to be put into action, immediately.  

The CIA process was developed by the SAPRR program, led by SAPRR program manager Michelle Underwood, a licensed mental health therapist who has worked in the field of sexual assault prevention for more than a decade. The Care, Inform, Ask, methodology is designed to reduce systemic barriers to reporting and empower a trusted friend, or colleague to help explore resources. 

Frequently asked questions can be found on the SAPRR program website

Care for your friend 

  • Assess safety concerns. Create a safer space by: 
    • ​Being present 
    • Actively listening without judgement 
    • Reminding your friend that this isn’t their fault 

Inform your friend 

  • Encourage them to obtain medical care  
  • Offer to escort your friend to a SARC, VA, or Chaplain 
  • Discuss two types of reporting options (restricted and unrestricted) 
    • Reporting is ultimately their decision 
  • Encourage friend to use the Safe Helpline  
  • Encourage friend to use the Catch a Serial Offender program (sapr.mil/catch) 

Ask your friend 

  • Are you safe? Are there any immediate threats?  
    • If yes, contact 911 
  • Ask if you can accompany them to assistance providers 
  • Ask safety and health related questions, refrain from asking detailed questions about the incident 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, with events and training opportunities throughout the Coast Guard to recommit to the ongoing and expanded effort to eliminate harassment and assault from the workforce. 

The Coast Guard has expanded options when disclosing a sexual assault to include the ability to confide in another person outside of their chain of command or ombudsman. Confiding in a friend, colleague, or ombudsman are possible without launching a formal investigation and preserve reporting options.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Victim Advocate Program, reach out to your District SARC and discuss requirements for becoming credentialed.   

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