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How to Find Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse

It can be difficult to know when or how to reach out for help regarding a partner’s controlling or abusive behavior. Picking up the phone to ask for help can involve some self-doubt and confusion. But speaking to someone about problems in your relationship doesn’t require you to make any immediate decisions.

Call The Hotline

For immediate support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 800-799-7233.

Discussing unhealthy behavior or abuse with a professional is just a small step toward a better tomorrow, one where you feel safe and fulfilled, either in your relationship or outside it.

There are several options for getting help, depending on your situation. One way is through your installation’s Family Advocacy Program office. You can also find help by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. For domestic violence emergencies, call 911.

Reporting options

The Defense Department is committed to ending domestic violence. To that end, the department offers different reporting options. You have the option of making either a restricted or unrestricted report of domestic abuse, except in select cases. Both options allow access to victim advocacy services, which include personal help and support.

Restricted reporting: Someone impacted by domestic abuse can choose to file a restricted report. Three groups of professionals have the authority to keep information about domestic abuse confidential under the restricted reporting option:

  • Domestic abuse victim advocates
  • FAP clinicians
  • Health care providers*

Making a restricted report means:

  • Law enforcement is not notified.
  • Command is not involved.
  • The person impacted by domestic abuse has access to the full range of FAP services, including counseling and support from a victim advocate. He or she will work with the victim to develop a safety plan and identify next steps, including pursuing options outside the military system.

*Some state-specific laws may require medical providers to report known or suspected incidents of domestic abuse to law enforcement, regardless of a victim’s preferences. Contact your local FAP or legal assistance office to learn more.

Unrestricted reporting: With an unrestricted report, someone impacted by 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 be notified of the incident.
  • Command will be notified.
  • The person impacted by domestic abuse has access to support and protection from command, such as a military protection order.
  • The person impacted by domestic abuse has access to the full range of FAP services, including counseling and support from a victim advocate. He or she will work with the victim to develop a safety plan and identify next steps.
  • The person impacted by domestic abuse can receive assistance in applying for transitional compensation, if applicable.

Family Advocacy Program

Your installation’s FAP office provides services to protect, support and empower victims of domestic abuse, and offers treatment for abusers, as appropriate. The program offers a range of services, including:

  • Emergency services and counseling. Domestic abuse victim advocates can assist you in finding shelter, medical care, counseling, legal services and other resources both on and off the military installation. Advocates provide valuable information and support on issues such as family services, military and civilian legal and court procedures and other matters to help you make sound decisions for you and your family.
  • Help creating a safety plan. Counselors and advocates will help you design a safety plan, including steps to take before, during and after a domestic abuse crisis. A safety plan covers things like where to go for shelter, how to find financial and emotional support, making a contingency plan for child care and what to have ready to take with you if you must leave home.
  • Assistance getting a military protection order or civilian protection order. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider a military protection order – issued by a military commander – or a civilian protection order, issued by a civilian court. An MPO can be used when the abuser is an active duty service member and can restrict them from having contact with you or other protected individuals. CPOs can be issued with both active-duty and civilian abusers.
  • Counseling services. Licensed clinical FAP staff provide individual and group counseling to help victims mitigate the effects of abuse, challenge self-blaming thoughts and make healthy choices for themselves and their children, when applicable.
  • Transitional compensation. Family members of a service member separated from the service due to a dependent abuse offense can receive temporary payments and benefits. Transitional compensation assists military family members by lessening the financial hardship associated with leaving an abusive relationship.

DOD’s Domestic Abuse Victim Assistance Directory helps you locate on- and off-installation victim support services in your area – whether you’re in the United States or overseas. The directory can provide you with the direct number to a domestic abuse victim advocate, as well as state and local 24/7 hotline information.

Other resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) is a free and confidential resource for those in an abusive relationship or family or friends who love and care about their health and safety. Hotline services include:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Safety planning
  • Information about domestic violence and referrals to local service providers
  • Direct connection to domestic violence resources available in the caller’s area provided by a hotline advocate, including local domestic abuse victim advocates
  • Assistance in more than 140 different languages

The toll-free hotline is confidential, available 24 hours a day and can be reached from anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Call 800-787-3224 TTY for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing, or visit www.thehotline.org.

Taking the first step

If you are concerned about unhealthy patterns or recognize abuse in your relationship, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Specially trained professionals are available to provide confidential assistance 24/7. Facing a problem and asking for help takes courage, and it might be the first step to a safer and more fulfilling future.

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, contact your command, a FAP office or law enforcement. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911.

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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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Installation Program Directory

Find programs and services at your local installation.

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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.