Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

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Domestic Violence: Finding Safety and Support

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Military-Related Victims

You can contact your local domestic violence program whether or not you involve the FAP.

Victims who are connected with the military (service members, veterans, or partnered with a service member or veteran) can seek assistance from civilian domestic violence programs and may be able to seek assistance from Family Advocacy Programs (FAP). FAPs exist on all active- duty military installations. Services available include safety planning, victim advocacy, case management, and counseling. FAP services are free for anyone who is eligible for military medical benefits.

It is critical to understand the reporting options available through the military. There is a two-tiered reporting system: unrestricted and restricted. You may want to think through your desired outcome before deciding who to talk to, which can determine the type of report you make.

An unrestricted report can come in through any source – military law enforcement, FAP, the command structure, or any other military person or office. Responses to an unrestricted report include FAP services, medical care, law enforcement and prosecution.

If you want to make a restricted report, DO NOT discuss your situation with anyone in the military except military victim advocates, military health care providers, or a chaplain/clergy.

When an unrestricted report of a domestic violence incident is made to a FAP, there is an investigation. If the investigation reveals that a service member committed an act of domestic violence, the service member will be eligible for individual counseling, substance abuse treatment, anger management, and any other services FAP personnel believe are necessary. FAPs are not responsible for discipline or punishment – that is up to the service member’s commanding officer.

Restricted reports, on the other hand, are more confidential and may only be made through three sources – military victim advocates, military health care providers, or a chaplain/clergy person. Restricted reports will not be disclosed to command (except in statistical form) or law enforcement, but victims will be eligible for victim advocacy services, health care treatment, and counseling. There are some exceptions to the ability to maintain a restricted report, such as imminent harm to victim or others, child abuse, and if the abuse is reported to anyone other than one of the above-three groups.

All of the above services, however, are generally only available to those who are connected with active-duty service members including federally-activated Guard and Reserve members. Otherwise, those connected with Guard and Reserve service members can use civilian resources for domestic violence-related services.

For more information, visit http://www.bwjp.org/our-work/projects/military-and-veterans-advocacy-program.html.