01 September 2014

Domestic Abuse Cases in Military Families


It is rather surprising that one-third of domestic abuse cases occur within military families. These statistics are based on data gathered by the Department of Defense. For the past five years, men from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force have reported about 8,000 cases of domestic violence per year. According to the information maintained by Child Maltreatment and Domestic Abuse Incident Reporting System of the DoD, over 2500 cases involve women offenders and male victims. Such reports include civilian spouses of active-duty or inactive service members and couples with both spouses in the military.

Over the past ten years, the ratio of female perpetrators to male perpetrators has remained consistent at 1:2. Even if the cumulative cases fluctuate over the years, the ratio remains the same. During the middle of the decade, the total number of reported cases fell. Since then, the numbers have risen to the same high levels again. Where majority of the victims are females, it remains a challenge for male victims to prove that military men can in fact be victims of female perpetrators.

It is Difficult to Identify the Perpetrators

Some studies reveal that women can be more abusive than men. A study was carried out by Naval Health Research Center on the married or cohabiting sailors in their second year of service. It showed 15% men and 32% women committed some form of aggression towards their partner.

The family advocacy programs in the military deal with all kinds of domestic abuse cases. A Pentagon spokesman said that abusive behavior of women is different. Abusive women have different reasons and ways of abuse. As a result, it is very difficult to identify abusive behavior among women. This lack of knowledge can impede the judgment of the service providers, as the family advocacy programs are supposed to offer neutral services to both men and women.

Less Support from the Authorities is an Issue

The military police has not given serious thought to this problem of domestic abuse. The number of cases is surprisingly high, and the interest of the police is amazingly low.

Sergeant Casey Gray of Special Forces was severely injured when his wife became physically violent with him. After reporting the problem to a military police officer, the officer said that he will look into it. But when a supervisor heard of this he refused to believe such a serious case could exist – how can a woman beat up a Special Forces agent? The supervisor refused to carry out an arrest.

Gray looked for help at the police station of his installation. Unfortunately, the police said they are unwilling to do anything about it and Gray is better off forgetting about the case.
The results of studies and data collected by the DoD clearly show the number of domestic abuse cases has remained consistent over the years. This is probably because the authorities are not interested in taking steps to address the issue. These issues must be dealt with as domestic violence may affect performance in the forces.

How can the DoD stress the importance of addressing all domestic abuse cases? How can we make it easier for service members to come forward for help regardless if they are male or female?

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

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