Domestic Abuse Program

Overview of Policy for domestic abuse

Domestic violence is a pervasive problem not only in society, but also in the military.
In the ten-year period from FY98-07, the military averaged 14.67 substantiated incidents of spousal abuse per 1000 couples. See Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program, Child Abuse and Spouse Abuse Data Trends from 1998 to 2007, available at BINARY_CONTENT/2265251.pdf.

militaryucmjdefenselawyer178Abuse includes acts of physical violence and/or sexual violence and/or emotional abuse. Every year showed a significant downward trend: 19.8 substantiated incidents of spousal abuse per 1000 couples in FY 98 compared to 10.2 in FY 07.

Also in the same time period, FY98-07, the military averaged 6.29 substantiated incidents of child abuse per 1000. Id. These rates were fairly constant throughout the nine-year period.

A recent Army funded study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “[a]mong families of enlisted Soldiers in the US Army with substantiated reports of child maltreatment, rates of maltreatment are greater when the Soldiers are on combat related deployments.” Deborah A. Gibbs, MSPH; Sandra L. Martin, PhD, Lawrence L. Kupper, PhD; Ruby E. Johnson, MS, Child Maltreatment in Enlisted Soldiers’ Families During Combat-Related Deployments, 298 JAMA (Aug. 1, 2007), available at (last visited 11 October 2009The study found that among female civilian spouses, the rate of maltreatment during deployment was more than 3 times 
 greater, the rate of child neglect was almost 4 times greater, and the rate of physical abuse was nearly twice as great. Id.

militarydefenseattorneys9.54.12 PM copyDepartment of Defense (DoD) Policy. In November 2001, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz issued a memorandum addressing domestic violence, stating that domestic violence is an “offense against the institutional values of the Military Services of the United States of America.” The memorandum calls upon leaders at all levels within the DoD “to take appropriate steps to prevent domestic violence, protect victims, and hold those who commit it accountable.”

Like the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, the domestic violence policy does not create any actionable rights for the alleged offender or the victim, nor constitute a grant of immunity for any actionable conduct by the alleged offender or victim, nor does it create any form of evidentiary or testimonial privilege.

Army Regulation 608-18, The Army Family Advocacy Program (30 October 2007), establishes Army policy for handling domestic violence issues.

DA takes a 4-part approach to child and spouse abuse:

  1. Prevent incidents of abuse.
  2. Protect victims of abuse.
  3. Treat those affected by abuse.
  4. Train personnel to intervene and respond properly to allegations of abuse.

Sexual Assault Prevention