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Deciding whether to report domestic abuse can be difficult. If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship, it is normal to feel alone, afraid and unsure about asking for help. Knowing your reporting options can help you decide what to do next.
The Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program is committed to supporting service members and their families impacted by domestic abuse. The top priorities of FAP are promoting safety through early identification of unhealthy relationship patterns and reporting abuse.
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You have options to decide if, how and when to report domestic abuse in the military, with some exceptions.
Restricted or confidential reporting option
Knowledge is power, and understanding your reporting options for domestic abuse can help you decide how to proceed. With a restricted report, military law enforcement and command will not be notified.
Three groups of professionals have been granted the authority to keep information about domestic abuse confidential under the restricted reporting option:
- Family Advocacy Program victim advocates
- FAP clinicians
- Your health care providers
Making a restricted report means:
- Law enforcement is not notified.
- Command is not involved.
- You have access to the full range of FAP services, including medical care, counseling, and support from a victim advocate. They will work with you to develop a safety plan and identify your next steps, including pursuing options outside the military system.
Victims are also entitled to the protections of privileged communication with a chaplain, but disclosing domestic abuse to the chaplain is not a report and will not connect you to FAP services.
Victim Advocate Locator
Use the Victim Advocacy Search Tool to find the FAP victim advocate closest to you.
Because victim safety is a priority, if you or another person is in immediate risk of serious harm, you cannot use the restricted reporting option. Note: The restricted reporting option does not apply to child abuse cases, which are required by law to be reported to law enforcement and child protective services.
Unrestricted or non-confidential reporting option
With an unrestricted report, a victim of domestic abuse or any concerned person may notify officially designated personnel – chain of command, FAP or military law enforcement – of an incident of abuse.
Making an unrestricted report means:
- Law enforcement will conduct an investigation of the incident, which will include contacting the alleged offender.
- Command will be notified and may take administrative action against the alleged offender.
- You have access to support and protection from command, such as a No Contact Order or a Military Protective Order.
- You have access to the full range of FAP services, including medical care, counseling, and support from a victim advocate. They will work with you to develop a safety plan and identify your next steps.
- You have access to legal services.
- You can receive assistance in applying for transitional compensation, if applicable.
If you are concerned that your spouse or partner may learn that you are seeking help for abuse, contact a FAP victim advocate or your health care provider. They can help you consider if, when and/or how to make an unrestricted report, and assist you in accessing additional services.
You may also decide to seek help outside of the military, where stricter confidentiality rules may apply pursuant to federal, state and local laws and policies. Shelters and agencies in your area can help you consider your options. Contact FAP, where a victim advocate can connect you to civilian, community-based resources or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate the closest Family Advocacy Program, or go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call 800-799-7233. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger of assault or physical injury. If you are on a military installation, call your military law enforcement office.