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Domestic violence reporting options

Posted 10/25/2012   Updated 10/25/2012 Email story   Print story


by Anne Owen
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

10/25/2012 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- This is the final article in the series related to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and perhaps one of the most important. In it is the discussion of the different types of reporting options available to victims and the help that can be offered to help heal the suffering.

Domestic and sexual assaults within an intimate partner relationship or marriage are the most under reported crimes in our society and in the military. While the Department of Defense prefers complete reporting of domestic and sexual assaults to activate both victims' services and law enforcement actions, it recognizes some victims desire only medical and support services and no command or law enforcement involvement.

The DOD believes its first priority is for victims to be protected, treated with dignity and respect, and to receive the medical treatment, care and counseling they deserve. To further this initiative, there are two reporting options available to victims of domestic and sexual assault within an intimate partner or marriage: Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting. While both allow victims access to the aforementioned medical treatment and counseling, they are very different in other ways.

The restricted reporting option is recommended for victims of domestic or sexual assault by an intimate partner or spouse who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling without triggering the official investigative process. Service members or their partners who are assaulted and desire restricted reporting under this option must report the assault to only the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, Family Advocacy Officer, Family Advocacy Treatment Manager, an on-base healthcare provider or chaplain. Those people will then put the wheels in motion to get the report started within Family Advocacy.

The following are some benefits associated with the restricted reporting option:
· A victim can obtain medical and counseling services without the offender knowing they have made the report. Command is only notified that an incident has been reported, but no details, names or any other identifiable information, so confidentiality and privacy is maintained.
· The victim controls the release and management of the personal information and decides when to initiate changing to an unrestricted report.
· The option can be changed to an unrestricted report at any time of choosing.

Drawbacks to the restricted reporting option include:
· The assailant remains unpunished and capable of assaulting other victims.
· No military or civilian protective order can be put in place.
· The victim will not be able to discuss the assault with anyone, to include friends, without imposing an obligation on them to report the crime. All Active Duty personnel are mandatory reporters.

The unrestricted reporting option is recommended for victims of domestic or sexual assault by an intimate partner or spouse who desires medical treatment, counseling services and an official investigation of the crime. This report can be made through chain of command, to a healthcare provider, law enforcement, or directly to the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, Family Advocacy Officer, or Family Advocacy Treatment Manager.

The benefits of the unrestricted reporting option:
· Triggers an investigation by law enforcement
· The assailant can be held accountable for their actions
· Military and civilian protective orders can be obtained
· The victim is free to share their information as they see fit.
The drawbacks to the unrestricted reporting option:
· The information regarding the assault is not totally confidential-released to Command on a need to know basis, which can be humiliating
· Triggers investigation by law enforcement
· The assailant may increase the level of violence in retaliation
· Once an unrestricted report is begun, it cannot be changed to a restricted one

Domestic Violence is never ok, regardless of any reason given to try and justify it. There is no reason to justify why Minot AFB has double the number of maltreatment cases than any of the other bases in Air Force Global Strike Command. Stand up and take a stand in stating domestic violence is not acceptable at your base or in your Air Force.

If you or a friend is in trouble, call for help. Don't leave your voice in the shadows. There are people and programs in place on base to help you. Call the Family Advocacy Program at 723-5096 or the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, available 24-hours a day, at 701-557-9466 for help, questions, concerns or support.

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