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Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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October 9, 2019

Where could a victim report domestic violence within the military system?

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may report the abuse to military law enforcement, the Family Advocacy Program (FAP), a healthcare provider, or to the victim’s or abuser’s command. However, where you first report the abuse will determine if the report is “unrestricted,” which means an official investigation will take place, or if it is “restricted,” which means that an official investigation usually does not take place.

Unrestricted reports

If you first report the abuse to law enforcement and/or command, this qualifies as an unrestricted report and will result in an official investigation of the incident. Law enforcement and command are both also required to notify the FAP of the incident for a risk assessment and safety planning.

Restricted reports

If you report the abuse to the FAP and elect a restricted report, law enforcement and command will not be notified by the FAP and there will not usually be an official investigation of the allegation; there are, however, exceptions in cases of severe risk of immediate harm to the victim or another person.

Note: If you are a victims who is a military beneficiary, you have access to medical services and FAP services with both reporting options, restricted and unrestricted. Current or former spouses and intimate partners could qualify as military beneficiaries.

You may also choose to report domestic violence outside the military system. Please see your state’s page in our Know the Laws – By State section to see how the civilian justice system handles domestic violence where you live.