DOD adds peer support chat sessions for sexual assault victims

Pentagon officials have launched the Safe HelpRoom, a new service that allows sexual assault victims to participate in group chat sessions with one another in a moderated and secure online environment.

The initiative is in response to a need for peer support services identified by users of the Defense Department’s Safe Helpline for sexual assault victims.

The Safe HelpRoom is available at, officials said, noting that a moderator can provide referrals as necessary and will ensure that chat postings adhere to all ground rules.

“Survivors of sexual assault have told us that being able to discuss their concerns with peers can provide a level of support not available through other means,” said Jessica L. Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “Safe HelpRoom is a ground-breaking development in the department’s commitment to support military victims of sexual assault.”

Safe HelpRoom sessions will begin immediately and are available twice weekly in two-hour sessions. The session schedule can be found at, along with polls to determine session topics to address specific concerns.

The Safe HelpRoom and Safe Helpline are administered by the Defense Department and operated by the nonprofit organization Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual-violence organization, through a contract with DOD’s sexual assault prevention and response office.

When users visit Safe Helpline, the staff provides one-on-one tailored assistance and offers a variety of up-to-date service referrals for resources on and off military bases and installations. Service referrals include information for sexual assault response coordinators, along with legal, medical, mental health, and spiritual military resources.