Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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Updated: 
June 25, 2013

If we are stationed overseas, where can I get help?

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.  However, an abuser can still be punished for committing domestic violence against you.  If the batterer is a civilian (such as government employees, civilian contractors, or family member of a military Service member) and commits a domestic violence felony, s/he can be prosecuted in a federal court in the US if the host nation declines to prosecute.  If the batterer is a Service member, s/he can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice even if the host nation declines to prosecute.1

If you are a civilian family member, and the Service member is being relocated overseas, the military does not require you to relocate overseas with the Service member.  (In fact, families with histories of domestic violence may be screened out for overseas relocation because of increased vulnerability and reduced access to services.)  However, if you do relocate overseas, you can still request "relocation for personal safety" if you are a victim of abuse and your safety is at risk.  The military may allow you to transport a vehicle with you (that is in your name or the service member's name) when you relocate.1

To connect with someone who can help you, you can contact the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line by emailing //crisisat866uswomen.org">crisisat866uswomen.org or you can call their crisis line (which is toll-free internationally) by calling the local AT&T operator from the country you are living in and asking to be connected to 866-USWOMEN.  The crisis line is also available in the US to serve families who have loved ones being abused overseas -- dial 1-866-USWOMEN (toll-free).  It is the mission of the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line to serve Americans being abused in foreign countries.  For more information, visit their website at www.866uswomen.org.

1"The Military Response to Victims of Domestic Violence, Tools for Civilian Advocates," page 51, published by the Battered Women's Justice Project