October 2, 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 two of a two-part series to inform Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and its tenant organizations about domestic violence awareness.
As was stated about the process in part one of this two-part article, after an investigation, the case is then presented to a multidisciplinary case review committee.
The committee has 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, suspected or unsubstantiated.
Substantiated: A case that has been investigated and the majority of available information indicates that abuse has occurred. This means the information that supports the occurrence of abuse is of greater weight or more convincing than the information that indicates abuse did not occur.
Suspected: A case determination is pending further investigation. Duration for a case to be suspected and under investigation should not exceed 12 weeks.
Unsubstantiated: An alleged case that has been investigated and the available information is insufficient to support the claim that child abuse and/or neglect or spouse abuse did occur. The family needs no advocacy.
In making these determinations, the committee uses the following definitions for abuse:
Child Abuse and/or Neglect: Includes physical injury, sexual maltreatment, emotional maltreatment, deprivation of necessities or combinations for a child by an individual responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances indicating that the child’s welfare is harmed or threatened. The term encompasses both acts and omissions on the part of a responsible person. A “child” is a person under 18 years of age for whom a parent, guardian, foster parent, caretaker, employee of a residential facility or any staff person providing out-of-home care is legally responsible. The term “child” means a natural child, adopted child, stepchild, foster child or ward. The term also includes an individual of any age, who is incapable for self-support because of a mental or physical incapacity and for whom treatment in a Military Treatment Facility is authorized.
Spouse Abuse: Includes assault, battery, threat to injure or kill, other act of force or violence, or emotional maltreatment inflicted on a partner in a lawful marriage when one of the partners is a military member or is employed by the Department of Defense and is eligible for treatment in an MTF. A spouse under 18 years of age shall be treated in this category.
Based on the committee’s recommendations, the commander decides what action to take regarding an abuser. The commander determines whether to order an individual into treatment, and/or to seek to impose disciplinary procedures under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The commander may also seek to obtain the discharge of a service member from the military.
Sometimes reaching out to someone people suspect of being a victim of domestic violence is as simple as leaving a phone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. If that threat appears imminent, call 911 (on base call 229-639-5911). If your suspicions are less clear, here are some things a person can say to a victim:
“I’m worried about you. Is everything ok?”
“I care about you. Here’s a phone number (800-799-7233). This site at www.ndvh.org provides state-by-state resources.”
“I’m concerned for your safety. This isn’t ok, and it’s not your fault. When you’re ready to leave, here’s a phone number of people who can help you.”
Don’t say things like, “How could you stay with him/her?”
Don’t make the victim feel guilty or condemned. Remember that leaving is a process.
Whatever words a person uses, communicate that abuse, whether verbal, emotional or physical, is wrong, a victim is not to blame and there are resources that can help.
For more information, call White at 229-639-8896/5252 or visit him at the Chapel Annex building.