The Department of Defense defines domestic violence in the following ways:

• An offense under U.S. Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice or state law.

• The use, attempted use or threatened use of force or violence against a person of the opposite sex.

• A violation of a lawful order issued for the protection of a person of the opposite sex who is a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common, or a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

The good news for Soldiers and their Family members who experience domestic violence is that help is available.

The Army has established a Family Advocacy Program to assist in coping with domestic violence.

Specifically, FAP was designed to achieve these goals:

• Prevent spousal/partner and child abuse.

• Encourage reporting of all cases of abuse.

• Ensure that assessments and investigations of suspected abuse are completed in a timely manner.

Protect victims of abuse and provide treatment to all Family members affected by the abuse.

Most people think that domestic violence could not happen to them. If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse and injuries are involved, the first step should be to go to the nearest emergency medical treatment facility.

A 2006 change in the FAP allows for confidential reporting in cases of spouse/partner abuse: the adult victim of domestic violence can request a “restricted report.”

This report must be made to a medical provider (FAP clinical social workers are considered to be medical providers) within the medical facility, the victim advocate, or the victim advocate’s supervisor.

The final decision on whether a restricted report can be supported must be made in conjunction with the FAP clinical social worker. If the risk for further injury to the victim is assessed to be too high, or if the injury is very serious (shooting, stabbing, etc.), then a restricted report will not be granted.

The Army favors unrestricted reporting of domestic violence for several reasons. Unrestricted reporting allows for protective measures to be put in place for the victim, such as “cooling off periods,” military protective orders or restraining orders. Unrestricted reporting also provides an opportunity to hold the offender accountable for his/her actions and to provide necessary intervention for the offender.

If the victim chooses to request restricted reporting, he/she may elect to receive medical care or supportive nonclinical counseling (including a safety plan, normalizing, and information on community resources) through the victim advocate, or the victim may receive clinical counseling through the FAP clinical social worker. These choices do not trigger the investigative process.

If the victim chooses the unrestricted reporting option, medical and counseling services are available to the person, but law enforcement and the abuser’s command will be notified of the abusive incident and an investigation will be initiated.

The use of violence to resolve differences occurs in all social strata, across all ethnic groups and within all age groups.

For further information on domestic violence intervention, contact the local FAP, Military One Source (1-800-342-9647), a local domestic violence/rape crisis center or local Army chaplain.