Fifteen years ago, the Department of Defense established a program to combat sexual assault and rape in the ranks. Since then, the military has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on prevention efforts with a stated policy of zero tolerance. A year-and-a-half-long investigation by "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell and the CBS News Investigative Unit into sexual assault within the U.S. military uncovered failures by leaders to address the issue. Over the course of the investigation, CBS News spoke with nearly two dozen survivors of sexual assault, whistleblowers who worked for the military's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program and families of suicide victims who say the military grossly mishandled reports of sexual assault.
The following resources are available to you if you are in crisis or have been the victim of sexual assault in the military:
- For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 is also confidential, free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- DOD Safe Helpline is a hotline dedicated to members of the DOD community affected by sexual assault. Safe Helpline offers completely anonymous, confidential, 24/7 support available online at www.safehelpline.org or by calling 877-995-5247.
- Service members or civilians who were sexually harassed or sexually assaulted by a member of the U.S. military can seek legal services with Protect Our Defenders.
- Service members seeking help can also contact Combat Sexual Assault and Never Alone Advocacy.