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Domestic Abuse: Military Reporting Options

Deciding whether to report domestic abuse can be difficult. Victims of domestic abuse may feel confused, alone or afraid to get help. If your partner is abusive, knowing your reporting options may help you decide what's best for you and your family.

The Department of Defense is committed to addressing and ending domestic abuse. Except in select circumstances, victims have the option of making either a restricted or an unrestricted report of domestic abuse. Both options allow access to personal help and support, also known as victim advocacy services.

Victim advocates can support victims of domestic abuse by providing:

  • Help with safety plans
  • Information on helping resources and referrals
  • Information about military and civilian protective orders
  • Accompaniment to meetings and medical and court appointments

Restricted reporting

Knowledge is power, and confidential information and support can help you decide how to proceed. You may contact a Family Advocacy Program counselor or victim advocate, or military health care provider to request a restricted report. Making a restricted report means:

  • No law enforcement notification
  • No command involvement
  • Access to medical care, counseling and support
  • Victim advocacy services
  • Time to evaluate your relationship choices
  • Control over what and how much information to share with others

Because victim safety is a priority, if you are in immediate risk of serious harm, you cannot use the restricted reporting option. The restricted reporting option does not apply to child abuse cases.

Unrestricted reporting

If, and when, you're ready to make an unrestricted report to law enforcement, you may contact the Family Advocacy Program, military police or chain of command. Making an unrestricted report provides you with:

  • Law enforcement investigation of an abuse incident
  • Command notification and potential administrative action against the offender
  • Support and protection from the command
  • Victim advocacy services
  • Information on legal rights
  • Assistance in applying for transitional compensation, if applicable

In an abusive relationship, deciding what to do is not easy. But knowing your options is the first step toward ending abuse and creating a safer and happier life.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate the closest Family Advocacy Program or contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).