Once largely overlooked and hidden from view, the issue of domestic violence and military families has recently emerged for the whole world to see. Rather than greeting this growing problem with persecution and blame, family advocates opt for empathy and treatment.
Information About Domestic Violence and Military Families
If you or someone you know is in a military family, it's a good idea to learn more about domestic violence within the armed forces. Along with all the anxiety that goes along with nuclear family life, military families suffer additional stresses specific to their situations. Practice prevention by educating your loved ones about the possible risks.
While life in the armed forces isn't responsible for every episode of military domestic violence, an increase in stress and anxiety may trigger undesirable behavior in men or women who already are at risk for aggression. This type of aggression can manifest itself in peacetime, but is most prevalent before shipping out to war, as well as after returning from combat.
According to information published by eMedicine Health and the Battered Women's Justice Project, the following risk factors may contribute to problems with domestic violence and military families:
- Prior history of violence within the family
- Witness to domestic violence during childhood
- Isolation from family and support systems
- Weapon accessibility
- Stress factors, such as family separation and reunification
- Post-traumatic stress disorder or battle fatigue
- Poor living conditions and poverty
If any of these risk factors apply to your family, you may want to keep a close eye on the situation. Draft a parenting plan that focuses on military family issues, and be ready to seek counseling if need be.
Armed Forces Violence Statistics
Throughout the American military's history, domestic violence has often plagued families with enlisted members. In the year 2000, the military responded to the growing problem by forming the Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence to assess the situation and formulate appropriate military responses. The following list contains a sample of data compiled over the ensuing years.
- In 2001, the Department of Defense's Family Advocacy Program reported over 18,000 episodes of spousal abuse.
- Eighty four percent of reported abuse in 2001 was physical in nature.
- Women are 66% more likely than men to experience domestic violence while in a military family.
- Sixty two percent of military personnel who abuse family members are on active duty.
- Of women who are, or have been, enlisted in the armed forces, 30% reported lifetime intimate partner abuse vs. 22% who reported intimate partner abuse during active duty only.
Domestic violence in any situation is aberrant behavior that requires immediate intervention. If you or someone you love is either a victim or a perpetrator of abuse, get help right away. The following resources can put you and your family on the path to recovery:
- Military Public Awareness Campaign, National Domestic Violence Hotline: Designed to educate and assist with life-saving resources, the hotline offers the public access to information about domestic violence in the armed forces.
- U.S. Army Family Advocacy Program: Offers services such as workshops, intervention, counseling, seminars and support groups to prevent domestic abuse in Army families.
- U.S. Marines Family Advocacy Program: Provides Marines and their family members with support, education, intervention, anger management and other comprehensive violence prevention services.
- U.S. Navy Family Advocacy Program: The Navy's available services include assessment, intervention, clinical treatment and counseling.
- Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center: When help is thousands of miles away, the AODVCC fills the gap by offering overseas intervention and treatment assistance to all family members.
- Army SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention) Program: Offers awareness campaigns that cover date or acquaintance rape, learning how not to commit assault, reporting assault and sexual assault risk management.
- Military One Source's Family Advocacy Program: Family members in crisis can access services such as learning prevention techniques, intervention and protection, assessment and identification, victim support and abuser treatments.
- U.S. Air Force Family Advocacy Program: A staff of nurses and outreach managers provide intervention services to prevent the maltreatment of children and spouses. Call (210) 536-2031 for more information.
When it comes to domestic violence, both men and women can become victims as well as perpetrators. The toll that the task of waging war imposes upon the families committed to protecting their country remains high despite improvements during the late 20th century. By increasing awareness and encouraging reporting, the Department of Defense has opened the door to finding appropriate solutions.