A Helpline for U.S. Antarctic Program Community Members in Need

On behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF), RAINN has launched the NSF Antarctic Helpline to provide support for members of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) who are impacted by sexual assault or harassment. This essential initiative is designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all members working in the remote and demanding environment of Antarctica.

NSF and USAP

The National Science Foundation is an independent U.S. government agency responsible for funding and managing research and education in various non-medical fields of science and engineering. The NSF also oversees the U.S. Antarctic Program. USAP is dedicated to promoting the nation's goals of supporting the Antarctic Treaty, fostering research collaboration with other countries, preserving the Antarctic environment, and ensuring responsible resource management.

The USAP focuses on three key research objectives: studying the Antarctic region and its ecosystems, examining its connection to global processes such as climate change, and using the area as a platform to explore the upper atmosphere and space.

Who Does the NSF Antarctic Helpline Serve?

The NSF Antarctic Helpline is designed to support anyone affected by sexual assault or harassment within USAP, including federal civilian workers, military service members, contractors, and grantees. These individuals may be located on the ice (currently stationed in Antarctica) or off the ice (not in Antarctica), across three permanent field stations, two research vessels, and numerous temporary remote camps.

RAINN's Role in Providing Helpline Services

NSF has contracted with RAINN, the nation's leading anti-sexual violence organization, to launch and operate the NSF Antarctic Helpline, providing 24/7 support. USAP community members are now able to receive help by telephone and online chat. They can also text RAINN support specialists for information and service referrals, and learn more about the program.

On the Ice vs. Off the Ice

The helpline differentiates between individuals who are "on the ice" (currently stationed in Antarctica) and those who are "off the ice" (not currently in Antarctica). RAINN support specialists are trained to provide emotional support and resources tailored to the distinct needs of callers based on their location.

Reporting and Resource Types

The helpline provides information on various resources within NSF, including information about making a report and accessing medical resources including mental healthcare and emotional support. Callers also receive dedicated crisis intervention and emotional support.

For callers on the ice who require emotional support, RAINN support specialists can offer information about available services and connect them to the appropriate resources such as medical or mental healthcare services or referrals at a caller’s request. In these situations, RAINN support specialists can access NSF-specific information for healthcare resources and provide this information directly to the caller.

Callers who are off the ice will receive emotional support and be connected to local support services. The launch of the NSF Antarctic Helpline is an important step in a continuum of activities that provide a variety of essential sexual assault/sexual harassment support-resources for individuals working in the remote and challenging environment of Antarctica. RAINN, NSF, and USAP are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all members of the USAP community, both on and off the ice.

If you are affiliated with the NSF USAP and would like to speak with a trained support specialist, call the NSF Antarctic Helpline at 1-833-637-1733, or chat online in English at NSFAntarcticHelpline.org. Additionally, for resource referrals text 202-932-7569.

If you are not affiliated with the NSF USAP and would like to speak with a trained support specialist, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online in English at online.rainn.org or in Spanish at RAINN.org/es. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, anonymous, confidential, and available 24/7.

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