The head of the response centre set up to help victims of military sexual misconduct says her organization has seen an explosion in calls for assistance over the past year.
Denise Preston, executive director of the civilian-run Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, says the increase has coincided with allegations of inappropriate behaviour by senior officers.
Preston says many victims and survivors have also reached out after having to revisit their trauma to be included in the government’s settlement agreement in several class-action lawsuits.
Preston says the response centre has hired more counsellors because of the increase in calls, even as it spearheads several new initiatives for military personnel, veterans and civilian officials.
Those initiatives include a peer-support program and a much-anticipated restorative engagement process where victims can speak to senior defence officials about their experiences.
Preston says she is also pushing the military and Defence Department to provide the centre with more information about incidents of sexual misconduct in the ranks so it can provide better oversight.