Victims of domestic abuse are often afraid to get help. 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 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 healthcare 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. A restricted report is also not available in cases where child abuse has occurred.
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 help developing a safety plan to prevent further abuse, referral to counseling, medical care, information about Military Protective Orders and information about military and local civilian 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, provide information on legal rights and offer assistance in applying for Transitional Compensation, if applicable.
The choices in an abusive relationship are never easy. But, knowing that there are options for seeking help is the first step in ending abuse and having a safer and happier life. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, contact your installation's FAP (visit Military INSTALLATIONS) or contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (800-799-SAFE ).