Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October 2008
October 3, 2008
Across the country, communities are holding activities to bring awareness to the issue of Domestic Violence. The Army and the military as a whole are also holding Domestic Violence Awareness campaigns, to bring attention to the problem of Domestic Violence and how it can affect the mission readiness of the military and the military institution as a whole.
Domestic Violence is a problem that is pervasive across the American society, and considering the fact that the military is made up of a diverse population of people from across the American society, it is also a problem that is faced in the military. It is a problem that has no place in the US Military or in American society. Domestic Violence is a cyclic crime, one that often is passed from generation to generation, if there is no intervention.
In the military culture, too often, Domestic Violence is not reported, due to many different factors. Often the abused spouse, feels that the military will not hold their abuser accountable for his or her actions. In many instances, victims are isolated from friends and family, by their abuser and the transient nature of the military helps the abuser to do so. Often the victim is left with no means of transportation, no money and feel that they have no where to turn. There is help out there for them, both in the civilian world and in the military as well.
Each US Military installation has a staff of Victim Advocates who are trained to respond and assist victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Each advocate has at their fingertips a wealth of resources that are available to the victim, both within the military and within the local community. Victim Advocates are with the victim throughout their ordeal, helping them to navigate the sometimes overwhelming military system, ensuring that they receive help and support throughout the entire process, from the initial report to the conclusion of the legal process. It’s often said that the Victim Advocate is the “voice” for the victim in the system. The military offers two reporting options to victims of Domestic Violence. These options are Restricted Reporting or Unrestricted Reporting.
• Does not initiate the investigative process. Neither law enforcement or the command are notified with personal identifiable information.
• Allows the victim of Domestic Violence to confidentially disclose to the Victim Advocate, the Victim Advocate Supervisor, healthcare providers or chaplains.
The limitations to restricted reporting is that the offender is NOT held accountable and thus they may continue to be abusive.
The victim is not eligible to receive a Military Protective Order.
The victim may still continue to have contact with the offender.
Evidence from the crime scene could be lost or could impede the official investigation if the victim later chooses to switch to an unrestricted report.
If the assessment revels a “high risk” for future injury or death, a restricted report may not be granted.
If the victim discloses the abuse to someone other than the specified individuals, these actions may alert the command or law enforcement and may initiate an investigate an investigation and the report will become unrestricted.
The benefits of restricted reporting are that the victim is able to obtain medical treatment for their injuries, advocacy and counseling.
It provides the victim with some personal space and time to consider their options.
The victim is able to control the release and management of his or her personal information.
It may increase the victims trust in the system.
It may encourage other victims to come forward.
• Military Policy favors unrestricted reporting.
• Command and investigative services are notified.
• Allows the victim to receive medical treatment, a forensic examination, advocacy services, clinical counseling, pastoral counseling and protective services.
The benefits of unrestricted reporting are:
The victim receives medical treatment, advocacy and counseling.
It ensures the widest range of rights and protections for the victim (Military and civilian protective orders)
Commander support including separation from the offender.
Full investigation enhances the opportunity to hold the offender accountable for their actions (crime scene, witness interviews and suspect interrogation).
Cannot be changed to a restricted report.
The victim may consider the investigative process intrusive, as information about the domestic abuse incident will be in the public domain.
Requires the victim to face the offender in court.
Investigation and court proceedings may be lengthy
There is never a guarantee that the offender will be convicted in either a court-marshall or a civilian court.
On Wednesday, President Bush signed a proclamation declaring October Domestic Violence Prevention Month. That proclamation reads as follows:
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2008
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
Our Nation has a moral obligation to work to prevent domestic violence and address its brutal and destructive effects. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we underscore our commitment to helping individuals across our country who face such devastating violence.
My Administration remains dedicated to eradicating domestic violence and helping victims find the compassion, comfort, and healing they need. In 2003, I announced the creation of the Family Justice Center Initiative to help local communities provide comprehensive services at one location for victims of domestic violence. In 2006, I was proud to sign legislation that reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act to improve criminal justice responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The Department of Justice’s Domestic Violence Transitional Housing Assistance Program also offers victims of violence counseling and transitional housing services so they can escape the cycle of abuse.
During this month, we rededicate ourselves to protecting vulnerable members of our society and ensuring domestic abusers are punished to the full extent of the law. We encourage victims of domestic violence and their families to seek assistance through Family Justice Centers and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Together, we can help heal hearts and build a culture in which all Americans can pursue their dreams and realize the great promise of our Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2008, as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I urge all Americans to reach out to victims of domestic violence and take action to make ending domestic violence a national priority.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
GEORGE W. BUSH 1
This year, the Army’s theme for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is “Soldiers, Family, Community: The Perfect Combination For Prevention.” At the beginning of this article, is a copy of one of the Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign posters approved by the Army. I encourage each of you, if you’re aware of a person who is in an abusive relationship, to share information with them about Domestic Violence and provide them with the number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which will be able to direct them to local agencies that can assist them. That number is 1-800-799-7233.
- http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/10/20081001-13.html [↩]