Domestic Violence Resources In The Military

Millions of people in the United States are connected to the military. They are active-duty service members, veterans, reserve service members, family, friends, and romantic partners. Intimate partner violence affects more than 12 million people every year, including military personnel and their families.  That’s why it’s important to know that domestic violence resources in the military are available. These are available whether the survivor is in the military or if their abusive partner is.

There are many unique experiences and challenges people connected to the military experience when in an abusive relationship. You can read about the challenges in part one of our blog series. Thankfully, the military provides specific support to domestic violence survivors.

Domestic Violence Defined

Before we learn about the domestic violence resources in the military, it’s helpful to know how the military defines domestic violence.

Domestic Abuse: A pattern of behavior resulting in emotional or psychological abuse, economic control, or interference with personal liberty directed toward a person who is either 1.) a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common; or 2.) a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

Domestic Violence: The use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against a person or a violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of a person who is either 1.) a current or former spouse; 2.) a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common; or 3.) a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

Reporting Options

If you’re in the military and realize abuse is happening, there are two different reporting options available. The option you choose affects who receives notification when you file a report.

Restricted or Confidential Reporting

Restricted reporting limits the number of people and agencies notified after a domestic violence report is filed.  If you make a restricted report, military law enforcement and command will not be notified. This can be helpful for someone worried about their partner interacting with law enforcement or someone who doesn’t want their partner’s career at risk.

The three groups that can keep domestic violence information confidential are:

Even if you file a restricted incident or report, survivors can still access all FAP services, including counseling and assistance from advocates.

It’s important to note that a survivor can’t make a restricted report if they are in immediate danger or at risk of serious harm. Depending on the state, clinicians or healthcare providers may be mandated as reporters of abuse. If you are unsure who is a mandated reporter in your state, you can ask a legal advocate for assistance.

Unrestricted or Non-confidential Reporting

An unrestricted report means FAP will notify law enforcement and the service member’s command supervisor. Typically, this type of reporting involves:

  • Law enforcement will investigate, including contacting the abusive partner. This is important to consider if you are worried about your safety or about affecting your partner’s career.
  • Survivors can seek a military or civilian protective order if needed.
  • Survivors who file unrestricted reports still have access to FAP services.
  • Survivors have access to legal services on military bases.
  • Survivors can receive assistance when applying for transitional compensation (funds to help you move).

You Are Not Alone.

It’s up to each person to decide if they want to make a restricted or unrestricted report. There is no right or wrong decision; it depends on what you feel safer doing. If you’re unsure what is best, our advocates are here 24/7 through call, chat, or text to offer insight and support. You can also use Military OneSource to find a domestic abuse victim advocate. Both services provide confidential and non-judgmental support to anyone in the military or who is in a relationship with a military service member. Remember, help is available.