Department of Defense, Department of Justice improve sexual assault response advocate training
By Department of Defense news, Defense Media Activity
The Defense Department teamed up with the Justice Department to produce an advanced training program for advocates who provide support to military victims of sexual assault, senior Department of Defense and Justice Department officials said.
DoD collaborated with the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime to develop a curriculum that expands on the skills learned in initial sexual assault response coordinator and sexual assault prevention and response victim advocate training. The Advanced Military Sexual Assault Advocate Training is designed to enhance victim advocacy skills across the services, officials said.
"It was important to collaborate with the Office for Victims of Crime and tailor an advanced training to meet the needs of advocates supporting military victims," said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, director of DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. "The professional advocates in the Defense Department -- both military and civilian -- provide critical support to victims of this crime and are central to building victim confidence. We are able to combine the Justice Department's expertise in learning development with DoD's victim-centered approach to training and policy."
The advanced training is part of DoD's ongoing efforts to educate response professionals and add to the quality of support sexual assault victims receive. The 20-hour online course provides sexual assault advocacy skills training through role-playing scenarios that require course participation and interactivity, building on the skills learned during initial certification. This training also counts toward continuing education requirements for biennial certification through the department's Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program.
"This groundbreaking partnership between the Office for Victims of Crime and the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office makes state-of-the-art training available to sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates who serve victims on military installations," said Joye E. Frost, the director of the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime.
"As the Department of Defense moves forward with policy changes that affect victims of sexual assault in the military services, we believe this accessible and cost-effective online training will play an important role in changing the landscape of the military response to victims," Frost added.
Recent policy changes at the Defense Department are designed to ensure that survivors of sexual assault have access to a trained and professional system of support. DoD created a special victims counsel program to provide free legal consultation and representation to victims of sexual assault throughout the justice process.
Another reform supports a special victim capability for the investigators and legal personnel who respond to allegations of sexual assault. Additionally, all response coordinators and victim advocates are certified through D-SAACP, a certification program established with the National Organization for Victim Assistance.
"We measure our results in the choices of victims, who are now reporting in unprecedented numbers," Snow said. "Working with the Office for Victims of Crime to implement their best practices in DoD training promotes greater awareness of the issues victims face and enables our responders across the services to provide the support and resources victims need."
To register for the Advanced Military Sexual Assault Advocate Training, certified Defense Department response coordinators and victim advocates should contact the Justice Department's OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center at TTAC@ovcttac.org.