SARCs provide comfort when needed most

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is part three of a three-part series on sexual assault and the options for victims.

The act of sexual assault can be devastating for the victim both mentally and physically.

Recovering is a process that has many steps, though the one that should be the main option for military personnel is to contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. SARCs are available at major Department of Defense installations to assist victims of sexual assault.

"We play the supportive role; we are here to help that person that calls us," said Tracy Spencer, SARC for the Holloman AFB Sexual Assault Prevention office. "We provide information so the victim can make the right decision."

Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual conduct, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy (oral or anal sex), indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship, or age of the victim.

SARCs provide options and help for victims so they can get through the process.

There are two forms of reporting sexual assaults through the SARC office. A restricted report provides complete confidentiality to the victim, there is no investigation and there is no police or commander notification. An unrestricted report involves a discreet "need to know" investigation of the sexual assault and notification of the police and commander.

"We provide care for victims whether they were sexually assaulted as children or if it happened 10 minutes ago," said Spencer. "It doesn't matter, people can come forward at any time to get the help that they need."

The SARC office encourages victims to come forward and report so they can receive help in the healing process.

"If we compare sexual assault to a deep wound, then you would see that you can't just put a band-aid on it," Spencer said. "Some wounds require surgery, and sexual assault is the same way. It's a wound of the mind, body and soul, and you need professional care to get better."

For more information contact your local SARC office.