A Safe Space for Relationship Help: The Family Advocacy Program

Young woman thinking

It’s important to know where you can go for safe, judgment-free help when you are feeling unsafe in your relationship. Caring assistance is available through the Family Advocacy Program.

Everyone who experiences domestic abuse has a unique set of circumstances and concerns. Through your installation’s Family Advocacy Program, you can meet with a victim advocate with a deep understanding about the challenges of seeking help for domestic abuse. The role of a victim advocate is to be there for you, to hear you and to offer help and resources.

Find Support Today

Take care of yourself today by talking with a victim advocate, who can show you options you might not be aware of and provide the support you are seeking.

You’ll talk, we’ll listen

When you call (or visit) your Family Advocacy Program to reach a victim advocate, they will welcome you in.

Connect with a victim advocate through your local FAP office. You can decide how much of your story to share in the first conversation.

When you call to speak with a victim advocate, they will want to know if you are in a safe place to talk, and can discuss ways for you to maintain your safety as you seek information and support for your situation.

To help, your advocate will need to know what you’ve experienced. They will listen to you without judgment to find out what you have been through and what you want to happen going forward.

It may be difficult to talk about what you’ve experienced, but it will allow you to voice concerns about your relationship in a safe space. It may help to start by explaining a recent event or by talking about your experiences in a timeline of your relationship.

You have options, and we’ll explain them

The Family Advocacy Program offers victim-centered and victim-led assistance. Translation? Your victim advocate will never pressure you to make a decision you are uncomfortable with. You are in charge of your life and your choices.

You don’t have to be experiencing a crisis to meet with a victim advocate — they can support you regardless of what stage you are at in your relationship. It is never too early to reach out to a victim advocate to ask questions and learn what help is available.

Make sure to tell your advocate what steps you’re ready to take, so they can provide informed support. By understanding your specific situation, your victim advocate will get a better idea of how they can help. They will explain the options you have for reporting and support, after which you can choose what is best for you and your family.

If you decide to report domestic abuse, there are two military reporting options: restricted and unrestricted. Your victim advocate can explain these options in specific detail according to your situation. They can walk you through what each option would look like for you and your family to help you understand the difference and decide what works best for you.

You choose your path, we’ll provide the resources

Victims of domestic abuse come from different family situations and have different experiences and needs. Some may choose to stay in the relationship and try to work things out. Others may choose to leave the relationship. Whatever path you choose, your FAP victim advocate will provide you with the support you need.

Develop a relationship with your victim advocate

Remember that when you connect with your victim advocate, it doesn’t have to be a one-time conversation. They are there as long as you need them to help you find safety, support and healing. Through the Family Advocacy Program, your advocate will work with you to:

  • Promote your safety, well-being and choices
  • Access appropriate treatment for you and other affected family members
  • Identify and build on your and your family’s strengths
  • Increase protective factors to help reduce your risk of future abuse
  • Connect with civilian resources and domestic violence programs

Specifically, your FAP advocate can facilitate connections for you to receive assistance for things like finding immediate lodging, medical care, legal counsel, a job or a new home.

As you continue to meet with your victim advocate, ask them questions you may have forgotten about on your first visit. Let them know your concerns and fears so they can address those, too. Your advocate can work with you to create a plan for your future.

Think of talking to your victim advocate as you would talking to a friend, only a friend who is removed from your situation and who has expertise in your area of need.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact the Family Advocacy Program to learn about your options and the resources available to you. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

10 Tips for Safe Internet Browsing

Woman typing

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and it is impossible to completely clear your browser history. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 en Español.

Most of us use smartphones, hand-held devices and computers without thinking twice about safe internet browsing. But every online interaction leaves a trail of electronic breadcrumbs others can track.

If you feel that your partner is monitoring your online activity, you might be right. Today’s technology has allowed for new forms of domestic abuse, by increasing:

  • Access to private information
  • Control over online accounts
  • Use of mobile devices to track a person’s whereabouts

Start practicing safe internet browsing today by following these 10 tips.

1. Browse the internet somewhere else. add
2. Know the Safe Exit button on Military OneSource. add
3. Avoid sharing sensitive information over email or social media apps. add
4. Log out of accounts, apps and forums. add
5. Lock your computer. add
6. Create new email accounts. add
7. Switch to private browsing mode. add
8. Clear browsing history. add
9. Clear cookies. add
10. Erase toolbar searches. add

For more information regarding technology safety, you may wish to consult this compilation of tips and resources from the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Inclusion of this information does not imply endorsement of the National Network to End Domestic Violence by the Department of Defense.

For more resources and support for surviving domestic abuse, contact your local Family Advocacy Program Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate. For immediate support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

Family Advocacy Program – The Essentials

Child hold cut out paper of family holding hands

The Family Advocacy Program, or FAP, is the Department of Defense program designated to address domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect, and problematic sexual behavior in children and youth. FAP works on every military installation where families are assigned, and supports service members, their spouses, partners and families to prevent abuse, promote victim safety and offer treatment and rehabilitation for healing after a traumatic event has occurred.

Learn more about how FAP works, how to get help and additional options for assistance in the event you, your child or someone you care about is impacted by violence or abuse.

How the Family Advocacy Program works

Relevant Articles:

Domestic abuse and intimate partner violence

The Department of Defense does not tolerate domestic abuse, and violence of any kind degrades military readiness. Through FAP, each of the military services is committed to promoting a culture of support for victims, and works with service members and their families to promote the rehabilitation of individuals who use violence in their relationships to learn healthy behaviors. Victim safety is always the number one priority.

Understanding the military response to domestic abuse

Getting help for domestic abuse and intimate partner violence

  • Use the Victim Advocacy Search Tool to find the FAP victim advocate closest to you
  • Call Military One Source to be connected to your closest Family Advocacy Program, 800-342-9647
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-7233 or chat with an advocate at thehotline.org

More about domestic abuse and intimate partner violence:

Relevant Articles:

Child abuse and neglect

The Department of Defense does not tolerate child abuse and neglect, and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of every child in the military community. Through FAP, each of the military services works with service members and their families to promoting nurturing, healthy environments for children and youth. When child maltreatment does occur, FAP swiftly responds and works with child protective services, command, parents, and law enforcement to secure the child’s safety.

Identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect

Relevant Articles:

Getting help for child abuse and neglect

Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth

A new Department of Defense policy expands the responsibility of its Family Advocacy Program, to include addressing problematic sexual behavior in children and youth. Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth is defined as behavior, initiated by children and youth under the age of 18, that involves using sexual or private body parts in a manner that is developmentally inappropriate or potentially harmful to the individual or the individuals impacted by the behavior.

Identifying and reporting Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth

Getting help for problematic sexual behavior in children and youth

Stand up for MilKids: How You Can Make a Difference to a Military Child

Mother reading a book to her younger daughter

In the military community, resilience is a familiar and important concept. Service members and their families are aware of the protective role that strong and healthy relationships play in enhancing readiness. The same is true for military children. Whether you have kids of your own or not, everyone in the military community has a positive role to play in a child’s life. In fact, researchers have discovered that the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is the presence of at least one stable and nurturing parent, caregiver, or other adult.

Just think back to when a teacher, coach, mentor or simply a neighbor gave you a compliment or helpful advice. It can be confidence-boosting. When an adult is present for a child, it helps that child build resilience and be better prepared to overcome adversities they may face, including times of great uncertainty like the COVID-19 pandemic, or a PCS, losing a parent or even abuse or neglect. That is because, as child development experts have discovered, trust and support from a safe adult promotes children’s development of healthy social behaviors and positive coping skills, which are crucial to their long-term emotional and physical wellbeing. That means that when you commit to be a positive example and a steady presence for a military child, your actions literally shape their long-term growth in positive ways. Your relationship provides structure, positive communication and stability.

The Science Behind Resilience

Discover how your actions help children develop resilience.

When a parent serves, children often benefit from the leadership, sacrifice, and strength their parents show by example. At the same time, it is particularly important for children to learn how to adapt, manage stress, and build resilience. You can help foster these skills by understanding the importance of, and committing to, practicing the following strategies for nurturing adult-child interactions.

Ways to Stand up for MilKids

You may be wondering exactly how you can help or stand up for a military child in your community. There are many ways and they don’t all require a major commitment on your part. Here are some ways you can change a child’s life for the better:

  • Offer praise and acknowledgement: Positive words can leave a lasting impression on a child. Saying something simple like “great job” and giving a high five or acknowledging their hard work can act as positive reinforcement. Praise can be given for simple acts, like finishing their homework on time or doing their chores, as well as to honor achievements like acing a test, expressing kindness to someone in need, or competing to their fullest in an athletic event—whether they win or lose.
  • Be an active listener: Children need the adults in their lives to regularly engage with them, check in on them, and even ask their opinions. This is especially important for children who may be struggling with a parent who is away on deployment. By simply asking them questions about their day and genuinely listening lets them know you care, and builds their trust—an especially important foundation that encourages them to seek out help for more serious matters. Be sure to give them your full attention. Put down your cellphone or tablet, make eye contact, and respond to what they are saying in the spirit of their mood. If they are serious, be serious with them. If they are playful, be playful too. Children learn to react and behave based on simple reinforcement by the adults they know. Most of all, believe what they are telling you and let them know you do.
  • Have fun together: Engage your inner child by taking the time to play games, read, or do arts and crafts with the children in your life. Making an effort to engage children in a safe and positive activity tells them that they are special, and worthy of your time. That makes a lasting impression on their self-worth. For ideas about what is available on your installation, use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to look-up contact information for your local Child Development Center or Morale Welfare and Recreation office and reach out to find out what ideas they have for play time.
  • Learn how to manage your own stress: Children are sponges. They soak up the energy from the adults around them—good and bad. To keep your family strong, it is important to prioritize your own mental wellness and self-care, including learning how to handle stress in healthy ways, so you can shield them as best as possible from negative behaviors or adult worries. There are also ways adults can communicate serious topics with their children and answer tough questions in a calm, reassuring and developmentally appropriate manner.
  • Consider coaching a sports team: If you love sports and enjoy motivating others, then being a coach on your installation could be for you. There are many after-school activities available for adults to volunteer for, and it’s a great opportunity to act as a role model and teach kids how to work as a team.
  • Become a mentor: Mentoring a child is a great way to help build resilience. You can find opportunities to participate in mentorship programs on your installation. Being a positive influence and taking the time to get to know a child can make a big impact.

Positive, and consistent interactions with adults can help to counter child adversity including trauma, abuse or neglect. Children are “works in progress” and the influence of the adults around them is significant. Learn how others in the military community are helping to raise resilient kids or visit THRIVE to develop your own skills in positive adult-child interactions.

If you know a child who has experienced abuse, or has disclosed experiencing a difficult or traumatic life event, consider the following resources:

  • Contact your state’s Child Protective Services or installation Family Advocacy Program immediately if you have reason to suspect a child has experienced abuse or neglect. If you are overseas, your installation Family Advocacy Program will help coordinate with the appropriate overseas child welfare agency.
  • If you believe a child is in immediate risk of harm, call 911 or your international emergency contact number.
  • Read more about how to manage complex situations and how best to support children who have been through a difficult or painful experience. Visit What is Complex Trauma? A Resource Guide for Youth and Those Who Care About Them. If you are a parent or caregiver of a child who has been through a serious traumatic event, you can learn how to help your child heal from trauma.

Pay it forward and be a positive influence for the kids in your military community to help them grow safe and strong. Remember that taking the time to be a nurturing influence isn’t only the right thing to do—it’s also extremely rewarding.

How to Report Child Abuse or Neglect In The Military

woman looking at phone by laptop

Everyone has a role to play in creating safe and healthy communities. This is particularly true when it comes to the health and safety of children. Community members can look out for children by being informed, attentive and supportive.

Child abuse and neglect in the U.S. and around the world is a serious and prevalent public health problem. An estimated one in four children have experienced abuse or neglect at some point in their lives. Child abuse and neglect is also preventable. Caring community members can help by recognizing the warning signs of abuse, as well as by sharing tips for safe parenting practices within their community.

Making a call to your installation’s Family Advocacy Program or civilian child protective services takes courage, but may ultimately protect the child and connect their parents with services needed to reduce stress and improve family functioning. While commanders and their chain of command have a mandatory duty to report, all military members and their family members are counted on to help keep children safe and report the suspected mistreatment of a child.

The following information will help you take that important step toward contacting the appropriate service and understand what happens following a report.

How to report child abuse or neglect

Per federal law, child abuse and neglect are defined as, “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical injury or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.”

Depending on the situation, you may report child abuse or neglect to one or more of the following organizations:

  • 911 or military police: If you are a direct witness to violence or have reason to believe a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your installation’s law enforcement office.
  • Family Advocacy Program: If you suspect child abuse or neglect –– call your installation’s Family Advocacy Program and your local Child Protective Services office. Each installation that supports military families will have a Family Advocacy Program point of contact for child welfare and safety. The number will be available at your installation’s Military and Family Support Center and is generally listed on the installation website and throughout the military community. You can also visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate the installation Family Advocacy Program.
  • Child Protective Services: By reporting an incident of suspected child abuse or neglect to the Family Advocacy Program, the Child Protective Services agency closest to your installation will be contacted. Each state has its own civilian office dedicated to child welfare services. A comprehensive list of child welfare agencies for each state can be found at ChildWelfare.gov.
  • FBI Cyber Tip Line for suspected online child sexual exploitation: If you have concerns a child is being exploited online, call the Cyber Tip Line, operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at 800-843-5678. You can also learn more about preventive practices for your child’s online safety here.
  • Other resources: You can also call your state’s child abuse reporting hotline or call or text the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453.

Assessing reports of child abuse

When you call to report suspected abuse or neglect, the responder will ask for your name and identifying information. Although reports of child abuse or neglect can be made anonymously, the contact information of the reporting person is almost always collected for follow-up purposes. Here are the steps that follow a report:

  • Initial screening: When suspected abuse or neglect is reported, the responder will assess the immediate safety and welfare of the child based on the information given by the caller. If Child Protective Services learns that the call involves a military family, they will often contact the installation Family Advocacy Program. If Family Advocacy receives your call, they will call the appropriate Child Protective Services office.
  • Installation involvement: When the Family Advocacy Program receives a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, they will first make a plan to ensure the immediate safety and well-being of the child. The Family Advocacy Program will also notify the commander of the child’s active-duty parent or parents, law enforcement, the medical treatment facility and Child Protective Services. These key players work as a team to ensure that children are protected, and the family receives the services needed to build and maintain healthy family relationships.

How Department of Defense-sponsored facilities or activities ensure children’s safety

The Department of Defense makes every effort to promote the safety and well-being of children involved in their fcilities by requiring:

  • Background screening/check: All staff and volunteers in positions that involve regular contact with children, such as a child development center staff, are required to complete thorough background checks prior to coming into unsupervised contact with children.
  • Staff training: All staff and volunteers are required to complete training before being involved with the facilities and programs designed for children.
  • Child Abuse Report Line: The Department of Defense has a designated line, 877-790-1197, 571-372-5348 OCONUS, for reporting of suspicions of child abuse in a Department of Defense child and youth program or sanctioned activity.

All adults in the military community play an important role supporting the safety of children and youth. If you have reason to suspect child abuse or neglect, call the Family Advocacy Program, and they can advise you on next steps.

Signs of Child Abuse

Empty colorful swings at the park

The Department of Defense and the Family Advocacy Program are committed to promoting the well-being of children and families by preventing and addressing child abuse and neglect.

An estimated one in four children has experienced abuse or neglect at some point in their lives. This abuse most often occurs at home and is typically committed by those well known to the child – parents, relatives, babysitters and family friends.

The good news is child abuse and neglect can be prevented. You can do your part to keep military children safe and secure by learning more about what child abuse and neglect are, understanding signs that a child may be at risk, and knowing how to report suspected abuse.

What is child abuse and neglect?

The Department of Defense defines child abuse and neglect as, “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical injury or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or, an act or failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.” Child abuse generally falls into one of the following four categories:

  • Neglect includes the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, medical or educational needs. For example, a parent or caregiver withholds food from their child as a punishment for misbehaving.
  • Physical abuse includes any behavior that involves the use of force to harm a child, such as punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting or burning.
  • Sexual abuse involves any contact with a child of a sexual nature by an adult. This includes both physical touch involving a sexual body part belonging to the child, or the adult, as well as forcing a child to look at an adult’s sexual body parts. Sexual abuse of children also includes intentionally exposing children to pornographic or other explicitly sexual material. It is key to remember that children cannot consent to any sexual activity.
  • Emotional abuse includes a pattern of verbal and non-verbal behaviors that have a negative effect on the child’s psychological well-being, including constant criticism, threats, humiliation and rejection. Emotional abuse can also include a parent or caregiver intentionally withholding affection from a child.

Risk of child abuse and neglect

Experts have identified common risk factors that may make some children more likely to experience abuse or neglect. At the individual level, parents who have a history of Adverse Childhood Experiences, including experiencing abuse or neglect while they were children, may be more likely to repeat similar mistreatment of their own children. This is because abuse is often a learned behavior, and our earliest experiences can have a big impact on our future relationships.

Another factor that may add to parental risk of abusing or neglecting their children is a lack of knowledge of child development. Parents who are younger, and perhaps less prepared to become parents, may need additional support to build healthy and nurturing relationships with their children. Further, parents who struggle with addiction to alcohol or drugs are at risk of exposing their children to dangerous substances and are less likely to provide for their children’s safety.

At the family level, parents who are under particular stress, such as financial insecurity, may be at a higher risk of neglecting their children. Times of uncertainty or crisis can lead to higher risk. For example, adults who are unable to cope with pressure may take out their anxiety on their children or partner by yelling, screaming or even hitting physical objects in the home. Parents with a history of relationship violence, with one parent abusing the other, may risk exposing their children to domestic abuse, which has long-lasting harm on their social and emotional development.

At the community level, everyone can play a role in reducing the risk of harm to any child through a commitment to knowing the signs of child abuse and neglect, committing to report any suspected abuse and by supporting parents who are going through especially stressful times.

Report Suspected Child Abuse

If you have concerns that a child may be abused or neglected, the Family Advocacy Program is available to help keep children safe and to keep your report confidential.

Know the signs of child abuse and neglect

A child who is being abused or neglected may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. The child may be afraid to tell anyone, particularly if the person harming them is a parent, sibling or other relative, or family friend. Learn about the indicators of child sexual abuse and how to talk to your child to ensure their safety.

The child may seem afraid of parents, older youth or adult caregivers or family friend. Watch for the following red flags, such as when a child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Has learning problems, or difficulty concentrating, that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Seems to always lack adult supervision
  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • Seems frightened of their parent or caregiver and protests or cries when it is time to go home from a playdate, from school or another outside activity
  • Abuses animals or pets.

How you can help

Reporting child abuse only takes a minute, but it also takes courage and the commitment to keeping children healthy and safe. If you’re concerned about a child or family, but aren’t sure whether it’s abuse, err on the side of safety. Reporting provides the opportunity to prevent or stop abuse and enable the family to get the help they need. Everyone has a moral obligation and, in many cases, a legal responsibility to take action to end child abuse and neglect. Here are some ways you can help.

Depending on the situation, you may report child abuse or neglect to one or more of the following organizations:

Strong communities strengthen families. Parents, caregivers and community members can help by being informed, attentive and supportive of children. To learn more about child abuse, read, “What is Child Abuse?”

Children and Technology: 5 Tips for MilParents

Child learning on a computer

Blue light exposure. Screen time. Cyber-bullies. Parenting today means staying in the know and up to date on technology with all of its gadgets and apps – and being able to guide its use in your home. Here are some ideas and resources for implementing a technology policy that will work with your family, allowing everyone to benefit from all it offers while guarding your safety and making the most of time spent together.

Know how much time your child spends with technology

Do you know how much time your child spends in front of the TV, mobile phone, computer and iPad? According to Zero to Three, children 6 months to 6 years of age spend about an hour a day watching television or videos. Children younger than 2 have about 30 to 35 minutes of screen time each day. Experts indicate that screen media impacts even infants.

Time with technology increases with age. Children ages 8 to 10 spend about six hours a day in front of a screen using entertainment media. Nearly four of those hours are spent in front of the TV. Excess screen time compromises children’s emotional and physical health, so it is important for parents to limit exposure. Consider ways to reduce screen time:

  • Set a technology curfew. Consider shutting off all devices at 7 or 9 p.m., depending on your child’s age.
  • Set a good example as a parent. By limiting your screen time, you model healthy boundaries with technology for your children, and prevent your electronic devices from taking up time you could be spending with your family.
  • Consult the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for media use among children 18 months to 6 years of age and for school-age children and adolescents.

Prevent cyberbullying by getting involved

Staying aware of your kid’s social media posts and interactions may seem like hovering, but it’s also important for helping your child manage cyberbullying, which is common. According to Common Sense Media, about 35% of kids say they have been cyberbullied. Since more than 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, bullying happens most often – and often more easily – with that device.

How to manage cyberbullying if it happens to your child:

  • Talk openly to your child about cyberbullying. Tell your child how to recognize it, how to stand up to it safely and to always tell an adult if they encounter it. Let your child know that he or she can tell you if they have concerns – and be sure you’re available to listen.
  • Consider requiring your children to include you in their social networks so that you can see who is interacting with your son or daughter’s online community and read comments, posts and interactions.
  • Make sure your child knows that any text or social media post can easily become public if shared by someone else. Help them understand that personal information, including photos, thoughts or feelings, should be protected to ensure their safety.
  • Know the warning signs of cyberbullying, like your child hiding their screen or device, shutting down certain social media accounts, or withdrawing from people and activities. Be prepared to help them block any user who is bullying, and to document any inappropriate posts and alert their teachers or school administrators if necessary.
  • If your adolescent or teen is dating, or hanging out with someone they have feelings for, remind them that it’s never okay for another person ‒ even a boyfriend or girlfriend ‒ to pressure them into sharing private or intimate pictures of themselves. For more help on this topic, visit Love Is Respect, a project for youth to support healthy relationships.

Replace screen time with healthy habits

Exercise and movement of any kind leads to good physical and emotional health. Screen time is associated with less physical activity and more calorie intake. On average, children eat about 170 more calories per day for each hour of television they watch – much of it junk food – according to research. Finally, too much technology can interfere with sleep and healthy social and emotional development, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

How to keep technology in check:

  • Plan fun family activities that don’t involve technology.
  • Promote healthy technology habits to your kids in the context of other health habits, like eating right, exercising and getting sleep. Check out this easy tool for creating a family media plan.

Use an Internet filter to set a baseline of protection

While parental supervision and trusting parent-child relationships is the best method of protection, internet filters help to minimize your child’s exposure to violent and sexual content online. Good filters prevent access to certain sites, with the capability to block by website name, domain and Internet Protocol address. Filters also allow you to schedule internet access at certain times and days, which can help limit screen time, encourage moderation and prevent your child from logging on late at night.

How to monitor internet activity:

  • Check to see what files have been created on your child’s device.
  • Create an Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or other social media account and become a follower of your child’s profile.
  • Choose an internet filter with features allowing you to block access in different ways and schedule internet access at certain times.
  • Explain to your children that you trust them online but are using a filter as a protective measure against unsafe sites or unsafe people, or to help reduce the temptation of logging on late at night and missing their sleep.

Because no filter is perfect, it is important to familiarize yourself with internet safety guidelines and with information on how to address predators.

If you do have concerns your child is being exploited online, call the Cyber Tip Line, operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at 800-843-5678.

Modeling responsible technology use for your kids is the best thing you can do for your family.

Technology offers tremendous benefits. It connects MilParents to a wider community of support and serves as a gateway to resources and services that help you master your MilLife. The best lesson you can pass on to your child, then, is how to use technology responsibly – what to watch out for online and how to navigate safely through cyberspace – as well as how to use it in moderation.

THRIVE for military parents

Access the new, evidence-informed resource that helps parents manage and reduce stress, practice positive parenting and be healthy.

Here are some tips for teaching responsible technology use:

  • When your kids watch TV, make sure it’s appropriate for their age. Tune in together so you can see your child’s reaction to violent or explicit content and talk to them about it.
  • Share some safety tips with your kids, like never sharing personal information or clicking on links in messages or emails from people they don’t know.
  • Put your device away and out of reach when you drive, and anytime you are engaged in activities that require your full attention.

Technology is part of our world. It’s up to parents to do their best to be informed, attentive and supportive of their children to keep them safe and healthy online. With the right resources, parents can help their children use technology responsibly and safely.

Domestic Abuse: Military Reporting Options

Person texting on cell phone

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and it is impossible to completely clear your browser history. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 en Español.

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.

Keep in Mind:

  • If you are using a shared computer at home, or believe someone is monitoring your internet usage, consider viewing this information from a public setting, such as a library.
  • It is also a good idea to exit from this website and delete it from your browser history after viewing this material.
  • This guide offers tips on how to clear your browser and be safe online.

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:

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 who 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 who 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 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.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate the closest Family Advocacy Program, or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 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.