By Maria YagerFebruary 12, 2019
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Officials from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, Fort Campbell and the local community held a Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Summit Feb. 6 to 8 to examine processes and protocols used when responding to reports of sexual assault and domestic violence.
"Domestic violence and sexual assault are still happening and there is absolutely no room for it," said Brig. Gen. Todd Royar, deputy commanding general for support, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), to more than 100 summit participants, which included first responders, medical personnel, victim advocates, military and civil law enforcement officials, social workers and counselors, staff judge advocates and civic officials from surrounding communities. "From the 101st command perspective, we support and advocate for prevention, treatment, and enforcement efforts and agencies. If there are ideas or process issues, or better ways to provide support to victims, we want to know about it. It is extremely important to us."
One goal of the summit is for responders to gain a better understanding of what victims experience in the days, weeks, and months after reporting an assault. Responders at the summit shared their individual roles when assisting a victim through the process from initial response, medical care, reporting, investigation, and legal proceedings.
"They encounter many different people all trying to assist them through the process. It is confusing at times for us and we can only imagine how it feels for the victim. Our goal in this training is to improve lines of service and communication for victims," said summit coordinator Evangeline Barefoot, a program manager at Blanchfield's Sexual Assault Medical Management Office.
Participants followed the case off "Sarah" a fictitious victim of domestic assault. The details of Sarah's case were provided by summit organizers. "She is not based on any single case, but the details of her case are made up of characteristics typically seen in cases of domestic violence," said Lt. Col. Rebecca Farrell, a summit organizer and a special victim prosecutor at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate on Fort Campbell.
Summit participants followed Sarah's case from the initial 911 call to the arrival of military police and EMS, then to the hospital where she was cared for by hospital personnel and connected with a Family Advocacy Program victim advocate. Behavioral health and other support services were made available to the victim. Throughout each step, participants explained what services they provide to Sarah, helping other responders understand what she encountered throughout the process. Eventually the scenario expanded to include law enforcement and military and civil justice officials as Sarah's case moved to the legal process.
Barefoot said there was a lot of good dialogue and exchange of information at the summit.
"[Participants] are also bringing information to us which is helpful in helping us improve services. It's been tremendous on both sides," said Barefoot.
Now, summit organizers will compile the lessons learned and determine if new or better practices can be implemented. Barefoot said she hopes to make the conference an annual event.
For more information, visit the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention website at http://sexualassault.army.mil/