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Getting Help for Relationship Sexual Abuse

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If you have ever had an intimate experience with your partner that made you feel uncomfortable or afraid, or one that took place without your consent, you are not alone.

The Defense Department cares about the safety and well-being of everyone in the military community. Read on to learn more about how the department addresses sexual abuse and assault and some of the options available to anyone seeking support.

What constitutes sexual abuse in an intimate partner relationship?

Sexual abuse is one of many harmful behaviors that involve sexual violence. These include sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact and sexual abuse by an intimate partner. In both the military and civilian communities, it is likely more common than most people realize, with victims often experiencing physical, mental and emotional health issues as a result.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these issues can include drug misuse, heart disease and depression. Victims may also suffer economic losses related to an inability to work resulting from what happened to them.

Sexual abuse can include a range of harmful behaviors in a relationship. These may take the form of pressure being put on one partner to engage in sexual acts that make that partner feel afraid, unsafe or uncomfortable.

If you have experienced sexual abuse or any other form of physical violence, or a threat of violence from your spouse or partner, this can be a red flag for ongoing serious harm and risk to you and your family.

Because physical intimacy is a part of most romantic relationships, some individuals may not realize that feeling unsafe or becoming upset following a sexual encounter with a spouse or partner can be a warning sign of abuse.

Getting help for sexual abuse

Everyone deserves trust and mutual respect in their relationships. If something doesn’t feel right, know that help is available.

A first step can be contacting your installation’s Family Advocacy Program office to speak with a victim advocate. They will listen to your concerns and help you determine whether to make a report of the abuse and how to access medical care. This may include referring you to counseling services or for a sexual assault forensic exam ─ and helping you create a plan for your emotional and physical well-being.

A FAP domestic abuse victim advocate can also help you identify community-based, civilian assistance as opposed to relying on military-based resources. To find the advocate closest to you, use the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator, which will help you find the victim advocate nearest to you, as well as state or local 24/7 hotline information whether you’re in the U.S. or overseas.

FAP works in coordination with civilian and military helping agencies to ensure victims receive support through a network of care as well as the protections to which they are entitled.

The DOD is committed to supporting everyone in the military community — service members, their partners and families, and civilian personnel — to maintain safe, stable and supportive relationships free from sexual violence.

If you, or someone you know, is feeling unsafe or unsure as a result of a sexual experience with an intimate partner or spouse, or is seeking help for a sexual assault, find your installation’s FAP office to speak with a victim advocate, or contact an advocate through the DOD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247. Civilian options for support are also available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

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Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator

Find help for domestic abuse from the victim advocate closest to you by using the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator — whether you’re in the United States or overseas.

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Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, visit the 24/7 Family Advocacy Program Victim Advocate Locator or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800−799−7233.