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Tools for Leaders/Command

Child Abuse and Domestic Abuse

Family holding hands and walking with a sunset in the background.


Child abuse encompasses physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect of a child by a parent, guardian, foster parent or caregiver - whether the caregiver is intrafamilial or extrafamilial - under circumstances indicating that the child's welfare is harmed or threatened. Such acts by a sibling, other family member or other person shall be deemed to be child abuse only when the individual is providing care under express or implied agreement with the parent, guardian or foster parent.
Domestic abuse encompasses domestic violence, an offense under the United States Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or state law involving the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against a person or a violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of a person. It also encompasses a pattern of behavior resulting in emotional or psychological abuse, economic control or interference with personal liberty, that are directed toward a person who is a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common or a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

Key points

In order to address these serious and complex issues, the DoD offers programs to promote and strengthen family relationships, and offers intervention and safety planning in cases where abuse has been identified. Such programs include the following:

  • Family Advocacy Program - The program is the Defense Department's social services program to address child abuse and domestic abuse in military families. The program works in collaboration with military and civilian partners to prevent abuse and provide a coordinated community response. Prevention initiatives include a variety of strength-based services to promote individual and family strength and resilience. Family Advocacy Program services promote the early identification of abuse, safety and support for victims, professional treatment and rehabilitation of alleged abusers whenever possible and cooperation with responsible civilian authorities and organizations to address known or suspected abuse.
  • New Parent Support Program - The program is a secondary child abuse prevention program that falls under the Family Advocacy Program. It provides home visitation services for military families with children from birth to 3 years of age (up to 5 years of age in the Marine Corps). Home visits are conducted by professionals such as registered nurses, marriage and family therapists and licensed clinical social workers. These professionals provide screening for risk of child abuse, support to high-risk families, classes related to parenting and child development and information and referral to resources in the military and civilian communities.
  • Domestic abuse victim advocates - Family Advocacy Program victim advocates are available around the clock to promote the safety and empowerment of domestic abuse victims. Personalized services include providing information, emotional support and accompaniment to military or civilian meetings.
  • Transitional Compensation for Abused Family Members Program - The program is a congressionally-authorized program that provides temporary monetary benefits, medical and dental care and commissary and exchange privileges to dependents of service members who are separated from active duty due to child abuse or neglect or domestic abuse. Monetary benefits are designed to assist family members in establishing a life apart from abusive service members.
    Transitional compensation provides temporary financial, health and commissary and exchange benefits to dependents of a service member spouse or parent who was separated from the military due to child or domestic abuse. Transitional compensation payments are designed to assist victims in establishing a life apart from abusive service members.
  • Child abuse reporting requirement - All suspected cases of child abuse must be reported to the Family Advocacy Program, the child protective services agency in the local community, the service member's command or law enforcement.



Active duty, activated National Guard and reserve service members and their families are eligible.

Program availability

The programs are available at military installations worldwide.


Department of Defense Policy

Department of Defense Legislation

Department of Defense Service Regulations and Orders

Support Services 

Domestic Abuse Reporting Options Info Paper

Domestic Abuse Victim Advocacy Program Info Paper

Family Advocacy Program Info Paper

Family Advocacy Program Research Info Paper

New Parent Support Program Info Paper 

Transitional Compensation Program Info Paper

Additional Resources



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