September 25, 2014 --
Editor’s note: The following article is provided by Marcus White, civilian victim advocate, Family Advocacy Program, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, from the following website, www.usmilitary.about.com/od/divdomviolence/1/aadomviol.
This is part one of a two-part article to educate Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and its tenant organizations about domestic violence awareness.
The Department of Defense has made domestic violence awareness an item of specific concern.
More often than not, victims of domestic abuse refuse to cooperate because they perceive a threat to their spouses’ careers.
In a lot of situations, many military spouses say, “I want you to make him stop hitting or abusing me, but I don’t want you to get him in trouble.”
In most cases, husbands abuse wives, but that’s not always the case.
In many cases, husbands are the victims of physical and mental abuse from the wife.
If an abuser is a civilian, the military has no control over the matter.
In most cases, all the military can do is turn the information over to the civilian authorities.
Installation commanders do have the power to bar civilians from military installations, and will exercise that power to protect military members from abusive civilian spouses, if necessary.
If an abuser is a military member, domestic violence situations are handled through the military justice system and the Family Advocacy Program.
These are two separate systems, not connected.
Family advocacy is an identification, intervention and treatment program, not a punishment system. It’s entirely possible the family advocacy committee will return a finding of “substantiated abuse,” but there will be insufficient legally-admissible evidence to allow punishment under the provisions of military justice.
In many cases, when responding to a domestic situation, the commander will order a military individual to reside in the dormitory/barracks until the family advocacy investigation is completed.
This may be accompanied by a “military protective order,” which is a written order prohibiting a military member from having any contact with an alleged victim.
Some bases have an “abused dependent safeguard” system where the commander can place family members in billeting under an assumed name. When domestic violence is reported to family advocacy, those officials will assign a worker to assess the victim’s safety, develop a safety plan and investigate the incident.
Throughout the process, victims’ advocates ensure a victim’s medical, mental health and protection needs are being met.
Family advocacy officials will also interview an alleged abuser.
An alleged abuser is informed of his or her rights under the provisions of Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and does not have to speak to the investigating officials, if he or she chooses not to.
If child abuse is involved, regulations require that local child protection agencies be notified and participate in the process.
After the investigation, the case is then presented to a multidisciplinary case review committee with representatives from the Family Advocacy Program, law enforcement, staff judge advocate, medical staff and chaplain.
The committee decides whether the evidence indicates abuse occurred, and arrives at one of the following findings: substantiated, unsubstantiated or suspected.
Each of these findings will be discussed in part two of this series.
For more information, call White at 229-639-8896/5252, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or visit the following websites for more information: www.ndvh.org or www.SafeHelpline.org