New quick guides help DLA team members respond to sexual assaults

By Kathleen T. Rhem DLA Human Resources

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Do you know what to do if someone you work with tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted? Many people wouldn’t know where to start. The DLA Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program manager has created two handy quick guides to help all DLA employees and supervisors who might find themselves in this difficult position.

“When sexual violence occurs in the workplace, it can create a climate of fear and reduce productivity and wellness of the workforce,” DLA SAPR Program Manager Renee Ferranti said. “The appropriate response can make all the difference.”

Bottom line, Ferranti said, first make sure the person is physically safe and encourage him or her to contact a DLA sexual assault response coordinator. A DLA SARC can be reached 24/7 by calling 703-767-5141 or 703-767-2625.

The new quick guides provide guidelines for individuals in different circumstances to take the correct steps if someone is sexually assaulted in the workplace. For example, supervisors and managers have an obligation to prevent sexual assaults and to properly respond if such an act occurs.

“An effective response will show you support your employees, creating a climate of respect and laying the foundation for a resilient workforce,” she said.

Often, individuals turn to key personnel they trust within an organization to disclose an assault. Such key personnel might include human resources specialists, labor relations personnel or union representatives, DLA police officers, or personnel in the Office of the Inspector General or General Counsel. Similar to supervisor responsibilities, individuals in these key positions have an obligation to ensure the victim is offered advocacy services through the SAPR program office.

The Sexual Assault Response Quick Guide for Supervisors and Key Personnel provides a description of what constitutes sexual assault, a checklist of appropriate steps to take, and communications guidelines for dealing with victims of sexual assault. This section includes sample language to make sure assault victims understand their options.

The Sexual Assault Response Quick Guide for Employees provides everything DLA team members need to know in order to answer the question “When your co-worker/friend/peer has been sexually assaulted, what do you do?” It provides steps to take to contact the correct authorities and victims support organizations, as well as take care of the victim’s needs. Like the supervisor and key personnel quick guide, the employee quick guide also includes sample language to use with a victim of sexual assault.

“If someone you know has been victimized, knowing what to do and how to help can be complicated,” Ferranti said. “Be supportive and advise them that DLA has a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office with response coordinators that can provide advocacy and resources.

The DLA Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office is part of DLA Human Resources and supports the People and Culture goal area of the DLA Strategic Plan. The program website contains links to the quick guides described here; DLA, Defense Department and military service policy documents on preventing and responding to sexual assaults; a training page that includes a video message from DLA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch and training modules for employees and supervisors; and a page with news articles, videos and public service announcements.