Victims of domestic abuse are often afraid to get help. They may love their partner, want to remain in the relations and hope the abuse will stop. They may fear that reporting the abuse will only make things worse, or they may feel ashamed for tolerating the abuse for so long. Victims may fear losing the financial support provided by their abuser, including housing or medical benefits. Some victims may feel trapped because they fear ruining their spouse’s military career or feel pressure to keep the relationship intact for the sake of the children.
The Department of Defense is committed to addressing and ending domestic abuse and offers victims two different reporting options for seeking help. With either option, victims have access to victim advocacy services, counseling and medical care. Victims of domestic abuse may want to talk to a Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate from the Family Advocacy Program about their options and other sources of support before making a decision.
Victims who prefer confidential assistance that does not include notification of law enforcement or military command may contact a FAP supervisor, clinician, victim advocate or a health care provider to request a “restricted report.” A restricted report allows victims to evaluate their relationship choices while maintaining control over what and how much information to share with others. Because victim safety is a priority, victims at imminent risk of serious harm cannot use the restricted report option. The restricted report option does not apply to child abuse cases.
A victim of domestic abuse who makes a restricted report may receive victim advocacy services without law enforcement notification or command involvement. Victim advocacy services include assistance in developing a safety plan to prevent further abuse, information about military and civilian protective orders, accompaniment to meetings, medical and court appointments and information about military and civilian medical, legal and community resources.
Victims may contact the FAP, military police or chain of command to make an “unrestricted report” if they want an investigation of an abuse incident and command involvement. The command can offer the victim added support and protection. An unrestricted report also gives the command the discretion to take administrative action against the offender.
For victims who choose to make an unrestricted report, a FAP advocate will also assist victims in making a report to law enforcement, by providing information on legal rights and offering assistance in applying for transitional compensation, if applicable.
The choices in an abusive relationship are never easy. But, knowing there are options for seeking assistance is the first step in ending abuse and having a safer and happier life. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate the closest FAP or contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).