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Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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Laws current as of June 21, 2024

Where could a victim report domestic violence within the military system?

The Services take the “no wrong door” approach when reporting domestic abuse. A victim may report domestic abuse directly to military law enforcement, the Family Advocacy Program (FAP), a healthcare provider, a chaplain, or the victim’s or abuser’s command. If the abuse is reported to someone working in another program or office who helps Service members, the victim should be referred to the proper support services. 

Depending on who you report the abuse to, it will be considered either “unrestricted” or “restricted.”

Unrestricted reports

If you first report the abuse to military law enforcement or command, this qualifies as an unrestricted report and will result in an official investigation of the incident. Law enforcement and command are both also required to notify the FAP of the incident.  

Restricted reports

A restricted report allows an adult victim of domestic abuse who is eligible to receive medical care from the DoD to report an incident to an individual in a named position without initiating the investigative process or notification to the victim’s or abuser’s commander or supervisor. Someone is “eligible to receive medical care” from the DoD if s/he is an active-duty Service member or is married to an active-duty Service member. The individuals in a “named position” who can be contacted to make a restricted report include:

  • a domestic abuse victim advocate (DAVA);
  • a DAVA supervisor;
  • a FAP clinical provider; or
  • a health care or medical provider.

To learn more about what happens after making a restricted or unrestricted report, see If I tell someone in the military that I am experiencing abuse in my relationship, will it be kept confidential?

You may also choose to report domestic violence outside of the military system. Please see your state’s page in our Know the Laws - By State section to see how the civilian justice system handles domestic violence where you live.