Domestic Violence Reporting Options

  • Published
  • By Joanna Spencer
  • Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, Family Advocacy Program
Domestic violence can be called many names: abuse, domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, spouse abuse, battery, assault, or simply "DV". DV may occur between individuals who are currently married, have been married in the past, share a child in common, share or have shared a common domicile, or who are, or have been, in an intimate partner relationship.

Consistent with the Air Force Family Maltreatment Definitions, DV can include but is not limited to: hitting, slapping, humiliating, forcing a sexual act or acts on a partner against their will, restricting ability to come and go freely, poking, threatening the partner or loved one's things or stalking.

No matter the name or type, DV has had an impact on our society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three women and more than one in four men have experienced some form of DV in their lifetime. This means that most people have a friend, colleague, acquaintance, partner, or relative who has been affected by DV and its many repercussions. Furthermore, it means that everyone in our society, whether Department of Defense personnel or civilian, has the opportunity to provide support and information to survivors of DV.

Some of the simplest ways to help a survivor of DV are to respectfully ask about their well-being or things that may be of concern, and provide information about available resources. One of those resources is the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate (DAVA) within the Family Advocacy Program at the 23d Medical Group. The DAVA program is confidential, voluntary, free, and can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The DAVA can assist by helping to create a safety plan with the survivor and their children, conducting a risk assessment of the partners' dynamics, providing a supportive listener, accompanying the survivor to any medical or legal appointments when requested, referring to available resources, helping to obtain a Military Protective Order or Civilian Protective Order, advocating for the survivor's needs and helping to make a decision about which type of report they are interested in pursuing.

The DAVA is able to accept both unrestricted and restricted reports of DV, but the family advocacy officer holds the final decision on whether a report can remain restricted. The restricted reporting option is available to survivors of DV who may not currently wish to have the incident brought to their (or the active-duty member's) chain of command or law enforcement to conduct an official report. The purpose of a restricted report is to empower the survivor to receive the services they request in order to heal from the incident and to have control over information associated with their experiences of DV. A DV survivor who chooses restricted reporting receives the same services as an unrestricted report: assessment, counseling, treatment, advocacy services, medical care (if needed), and safety planning.

A report is automatically unrestricted if information of the DV incident is shared with a supervisor, first sergeant, commander, local off-base law enforcement, Security Forces Squadron, Office of Special Investigations, if a child is involved, or if there is imminent threat of harm to anyone involved. The purpose of an unrestricted report is to allow for information about the DV incident to be shared with the alleged offender's chain of command and SFS or OSI, in order to pursue an investigation of the incident and allow both individuals to obtain available counseling and treatment.

If you have questions regarding any of the above information, please feel free to contact the Family Advocacy Office during duty hours: Mondays-Tuesdays and Thursdays-Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by calling 229-257-4805. In the event of the need for after-hours DAVA services, please call 229-444-6808, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the event of an emergency on or off base, please call 911 immediately.