Domestic Violence in the Military

Domestic Violence in the Military
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline calls to the hotline from military wives and girlfriends triple between 2006 and 2011. Calls between 2010 and 2011 increase by 25%. There are a number of factors pointing to those increases including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Much like society at large, those in the military are likely to downplay domestic violence or to understand its severity. Still others regard violence between married couples or intimate partners to be private family matter and are reluctant to become involved.

Particularly in the last decade the military is working to bring about attitudinal shifts that support domestic violence as an acceptable form of behavior. In fact the military has even gone say far as to formerly condemn domestic violence saying that it is not acceptable.

Recognition of the problem has been an important first step but progress in combating the problem has been somewhat slow. There are no greater attempts at offering supportive services such as anger management, couples counseling and parenting classes. Victim’s advocates work with survivors, Officers are provided domestic violence training and protocols, and reporting channels have been clearly established. The shift in attitudes, which involves more than putting staff in place or making a new rule, has been much slower. There has also been more cooperation between military and civilian officials to improve safety, outcomes and accountability for victims and perpetrators.

Domestic violence advocates point to increased pressure repeated deployments place on families noting studies that point to a correlation between combat trauma and domestic violence. As might be expected military members service combat duty can become desensitized to violence and death. At the same time war time can divert resources that might otherwise be used in addressing the problem of domestic violence. For example, domestic violence is now considered a crime in the military. Service members who have been convicted of domestic violence are prohibited from deployment. Still, they are often deployed in spite of the conviction, which sends a mixed message about priorities and values, and makes the system of accountability seem random and capricious. Consequently, soldiers do not have a sure expectation that there will be consequences for their behavior.

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