24/7 hotlines should be shelters, not black holes for victims
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo/San Francisco) today called on the Under Secretaries of the U.S. Air Force and Army to audit the effectiveness of their 24/7 sexual assault hotlines which are a front line resource for victims of rape and sexual assault. An ongoing investigation of a widespread sex abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base has so far implicated 15 military training instructors for sexual misconduct with 38 recruits, only one of whom reported the assault to a superior.
“The events at Lackland Air Force Base have exposed yet again that our military has failed to identify and help victims in anything approaching real time,” wrote Congresswoman Speier in a letter to the Under Secretaries on Friday morning.
“One of the key components to identifying and aiding these victims are providing them with the resources they need to report misconduct. At the frontline of these resources are 24/7 hotlines. Unfortunately, these calls are not always properly handled, and consequently victims may not receive proper attention or guidance, and they may be discouraged from reporting an incident.
“As part of your commitment to our troops and eradicating sexual assault in the military, I would ask you to have the Air Force and Army IGs audit your services’ hotlines to identify potential weakness and improvements necessary to make these hotlines shelters, rather than black holes, for victims,” wrote Speier.
Regular auditing by the Navy of Naval and Marine 24/7 hotlines has contributed to significant service improvements since the first review in 2010 identified a 52% call failure rate. In a previously unreleased report from June, 2012, the Naval Auditing Service shows the failure rate has decreased to 11%.
“The Navy must work to get this number down to zero, but I applaud them for their vigilant oversight of this issue and the progress they are making to ensure that the calls of victims that are brave enough to seek help are handled properly,” wrote Speier who is also making the Naval Auditing Service’s June 2012 report available to the public today.