WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

View all
Updated: 
October 9, 2019

If I am stationed overseas, where can I get help for domestic abuse?

Domestic violence victims may become more vulnerable when stationed overseas since there are likely to be fewer services available both on and off the installation. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) does provide services outside of the United States, and a victim advocate is available at every military installation where families are assigned. You can find information about the FAP by searching for your installation online at the Military One Source website. In addition, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides online chat services 24/7, and can be a resource for immediate emotional support and safety planning. You can also find organizations that help victims overseas on our National Organizations – International page.

If your spouse/partner is a civilian, which includes government employees, civilian contractors, or family members of a military service member, the military can still take action against him/her if s/he commits a domestic violence felony. Your abusive civilian spouse/partner can be prosecuted as follows:

  • in a court in the host nation where you are stationed;
  • in a federal court in the U.S. if the host nation declines to prosecute; or
  • through the Uniform Code of Military Justice if the person harming you is a service member.

Note: If you are a civilian and your spouse is a service member who is being relocated overseas, the military does not require you to relocate overseas with him/her. In fact, families with histories of domestic abuse may be ruled out for overseas relocation because of increased vulnerability and reduced access to services. If you have relocated overseas already but you are a victim of abuse and feel your safety is at risk, you can request relocation to the United States through the “early return of dependents” option. The military may allow you to transport household items and a vehicle that is in your name or the service member’s name when you relocate early.