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Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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Laws current as of June 21, 2024

If I am stationed overseas, where can I get help for domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse victims may become more vulnerable when stationed overseas since there are likely to be fewer resources available both on and off the installation. However, the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) does provide services outside of the United States. You can find information about the FAP by searching for your installation online at the Military One Source website.

You can also find your closest domestic abuse victim advocate by going to DoD Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator on Military OneSource.

In addition, Pathways to Safety International provides support to victims of gender-based violence with a special focus on obstacles American survivors face overseas. You can also find organizations that help victims overseas on our National Organizations - International page.

If your spouse/partner is a civilian, which includes government employees, civilian contractors, or family members of a Service member, the military may still act if s/he commits a domestic violence offense that would be punishable by more than one year in prison if committed within the United States. The abusive civilian spouse/partner can be prosecuted:

  • in a court in the host nation where you are stationed;
  • by the Department of Justice, in a federal court in the U.S. if the host nation declines to prosecute; or
  • by the military through the Uniform Code of Military Justice if the person harming you is a Service member.1

Note: If you are a civilian and your spouse is a Service member who is being relocated overseas, the military does not require you to relocate overseas with him/her. If you have relocated overseas, are the victim of abuse, and your safety is at risk, you can request relocation to the United States through the “early return of dependents” option by contacting the Service member’s commander. The military may pay to transport household items and a vehicle that is titled in your name or the Service member’s name when you relocate back to your home location.

1 18 U.S.C. § 3261