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SAPR office supports Schriever community despite COVID-19

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the Schriever Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office continues to provide critical support services. The office is currently following the COVID-19 mitigation measures working split shifts, practicing physical distancing and wearing masks when necessary. (Courtesy graphic)

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the Schriever Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office continues to provide critical support services. The office is currently following the COVID-19 mitigation measures working split shifts, practicing physical distancing and wearing masks when necessary. (Courtesy graphic)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the Schriever Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office services haven’t changed. 

The office is currently following the COVID-19 mitigation measures working split shifts, practicing physical distancing and wearing masks when necessary.  

“In the event we do receive a call, we are still available to meet with the individual in our office,” said Christina Martinez, 50th Space Wing SAPR office sexual assault victim advocate. “Additionally, an on-call volunteer victim advocate is available to answer the SAPR Hotline 24/7.”

While all base functions have an important role in the mission or in supporting the Schriever community, it’s especially important the SAPR office services are available due to the nature of their work. 

“During natural disasters, survivors may not report a sexual assault or seek services for a variety of reasons,” said Cecilia Smith, 50th SW SAPR office sexual assault response coordinator. “They may feel that sexual assault is not ‘as important’ in the current context because of the chaos associated with a public health crisis. Survivors may not know how to seek services, they do not know if anything is open or available, where to go or who to talk to. Along with that, shame or self-blame can be compounded, and victims may think they will not be believed or this is not as important, particularly since other emergencies are going on.”

Smith said it’s important for leadership, supervisors and team members to communicate across the Schriever community that there is help available. 

“All victims of sexual assault have a right to access services,” she said.

If a victim believes they have been sexually assaulted, they can contact the SAPR 24-hour hotline by dialing 567-SARC (7272).  By contacting SAPR, this will preserve their restricted reporting option. To maintain the restricted reporting option, an individual can also speak with a chaplain or medical provider.  

In the event a sexual assault is reported during COVID-19, SAPR is still following the same procedures.

“First, we will ensure the victim is safe and determine if the victim requires immediate medical assistance,” Martinez said. “If so, we will refer the client to Memorial Central for a sexual assault forensic exam by a sexual assault nurse examiner.”

Then, the SAPR representative will thoroughly explain the reporting options available to the individual. Confidential volunteer victim advocates are available to those who are interested in having an advocate.

Additionally, they will conduct non-clinical safety assessments if the victim has any safety concerns, provide a copy of their signed report if the survivor decides to make one, and offer and explain Special Victims’ Counsel Program services, which include offering victim-centered advice and advocacy through comprehensive, independent legal representation and victims in obtaining support and recovery resources. 

“In addition to these services, we have a list of other off-base helping agencies in the local area that we can further explain,” Martinez said.

Some of these services include: timely and confidential medical and emotional care, follow-up care after the initial report, testing and treatment, crisis support and a behavioral health referral or appointment.

As well as guiding victims through their recovery process, SAPR office members also provide classes on topics such as trauma and healing, male victims and alcohol use to Schriever units.

Additionally, the SAPR office is working with the violence prevention integrators on finalizing new training that was released in April; the 2020 Suicide Prevention and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training.

Commanders and directors are authorized to deliver the talking points to the members in their units. Once the training is finalized, the SAPR office will release it to Schriever’s commanders.

“Sexual violence has no place within the Air Force and is a threat to the integrity and vitality of our all-volunteer force,” Smith said. “Prevention of sexual assault is an inherent responsibility of every Airman, leader and civilian. One assault is one too many.”

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