SCHWEINFURT, Germany (April 4, 2013) -- If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, whether Soldier or civilian, help is available: Simply call DSN 475-4567 or CIV 09641-83-4567.

The Victim Advocate hotline can connect victims with a victim advocate, a health care provider or the military police at any time of day. The victim can decide whom they want to talk to, and those working the hotline will connect them.

Soldiers or civilians who are sexually assaulted can be assigned a local victim advocate who works with them throughout their case.

"They (victims) have been through a very horrible experience and I would ask them to get help as soon as possible," said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Windley, the installation sexual assault response coordinator, or SARC. "After 72 hours the evidence will not be as well collected and there is a better chance that the person who did such a heinous crime may not have to pay for it."

There are 25 victim advocates, three Installation Victim Advocates, or IVAs, and the Family Advocacy Office where victims can talk to professionals about a sexual assault incident, according to Windley. These trained individuals help the victim get the care they need and explain to the victim the process of reporting.

If a Soldier has been sexually assaulted they should immediately contact the unit victim advocate. There is at least one in every unit, said Windley.

Victims have two reporting options: restricted or unrestricted reporting. If the victim does not want to start a law enforcement investigation or have the victim's or alleged offender's commander notified, then they want to file a restricted report. Victims who wish to file a restricted report should contact a victim advocate, a health care provider, or speak with a chaplain.

"Soldiers and spouses can file restricted reports," said Windley. "DOD civilians cannot right now; they must go through the Family Advocacy Office."

Unrestricted reports are filed after CID, the police or a person's chain of command has been notified of the sexual assault incident and initiates an investigation.

Windley added that anyone younger than 18, depending on the information of a child of a spouse, child of a Soldier or a child of a DOD civilian, will need to contact the Family Advocacy Office, CID or behavioral health depending on the instances of the case.

To learn more about the Family Advocacy Programs, call DSN 354-6933/6435, CIV 09721-96-6933/6435 or meet with the Family Advocacy Program manager.