Whether or not you’ve experienced domestic abuse personally, you probably know that it can have devastating consequences. Victims carry the emotional scars of abuse long after they’re out of harm’s way. And abusers, if not stopped, can escalate the violence until they and their victims lose everything — family, career, self-respect and even their freedom.
The Department of Defense is committed to addressing and ending domestic abuse. The Family Advocacy Program works to prevent abuse by offering programs to put a stop to domestic abuse before it starts. When abuse does occur, the FAP works to ensure the safety of victims and helps military families overcome the effects of violence and change destructive behavior patterns. FAP staff members are trained to respond to incidents of abuse and neglect, support victims, and offer prevention and treatment. The following information will give you a better understanding of the FAP and how it supports families and the military mission.
The DoD is specific about what it considers domestic abuse and child abuse, and under what circumstances the FAP will get involved. It defines domestic abuse as violence or a pattern of behavior resulting in emotional or psychological abuse, economic control, or interference with personal liberty directed toward a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser has a child, or a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile. Child abuse and neglect are defined as injury, maltreatment, or neglect to a child that harms or threatens the child’s welfare. The FAP will get involved when one of the parties is a military member or, in some cases, a DoD civilian serving at an overseas installation.
For the FAP to be involved in reports of child abuse, alleged victims must be under age eighteen or incapable of self-support due to physical or mental incapacity, and in the legal care of a service member or military family member. The FAP will also intervene when a dependent military child is alleged to be the victim of abuse and neglect while in the care of a DoD-sanctioned family child care provider or installation facility such as a Child Development Center, school, or youth program.