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EVAWI > Resources > Best Practices > FAQs > U.S. Military
Q What is a “restricted report” within the U.S. military?
A What is a “restricted report” within the U.S. military?

As described in DOD Directive Number 6495.01 (which includes Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines) or Coast Guard policy (COMDTINST M1754.10D), a “restricted report” can be made by any sexual assault victim within the U.S. military who chooses to disclose their sexual assault to a Victim Advocate (VA), Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), or a health care provider (HCP). Some limited information about the sexual assault will be provided to the installation commander even with a restricted report, but this will not include personal identifying information for the victim. Within the military, only chaplains have full confidentiality; they do not have a legal obligation to report any disclosure of a sexual assault committed by or against a service member.

While a report remains restricted, victims in the military can now obtain all of the following services without triggering the investigative process:

  • Medical testing and treatment
  • Medical forensic examination
  • Advocacy services
  • Counseling assistance

This is the primary advantage of restricted reporting – accessing these services without automatically triggering the formal investigative process. On the other hand, there are a variety of disadvantages including the fact that the victim cannot obtain a military protective order and may have continued contact with the offender. The victim also cannot discuss the sexual assault with anyone affiliated with the military, other than the personnel listed above, because service members generally have an obligation under military regulations to report any such disclosure to their commander. In other words, if a victim tells his or her best friend who is also serving in the military that he/she was sexually assaulted, the friend is mandated to report it to a superior, and an investigation will ensue even if it is against the wishes of the victim. Moreover, if someone in the victim’s chain of command learns about the incident from another source, they are also obligated to report the sexual assault to the proper authorities (e.g., Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigation Division, and Coast Guard Investigative Service) who will then initiate an investigation.

Of course, victims can still talk about the assault with their friends and family members who are NOT affiliated with the military, as long as those support people do not pass the information along to someone who is in military service. However, the bottom line is that victims in the military have no guarantee of confidentiality and no promise that a restricted report will stay that way.

For more information, please see the OnLine Training Institute (OLTI) module entitled, Effective Victim Advocacy in the Criminal Justice System: A Training Course for Victim Advocates.

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