VAP – Domestic Abuse
The Marine Corps, as part of the DoD, is committed to ensuring that victims of domestic abuse are protected, treated with dignity and respect, and provided with support, advocacy and care. DoD policy prefers that personnel report suspected domestic abuse incidents promptly to activate both services for victims and accountability actions. However, requiring that all domestic abuse incidents be reported can present a barrier for victims hoping to gain access to medical and victim advocacy services without law enforcement or command involvement. To address these competing interests, the DoD has two reporting options; unrestricted reporting and restricted reporting.
Domestic Abuse Reporting Options
Unrestricted Reporting-Victims of domestic abuse who want to pursue an official investigation of an incident should use current reporting channels, such as their chain of command, Family Advocacy Program (FAP), or law enforcement. Upon notification of a reported domestic abuse incident, victim advocacy services and FAP clinical services will be offered to the victim. In addition, the healthcare provider will conduct any forensic medical examination deemed appropriate, at the victim's discretion and request.
Restricted Reporting-Restricted reporting allows an adult victim of domestic abuse to disclose the details of his or her abuse to specifically identified individuals and to receive medical treatment and victim advocacy services without requiring that notice be provided to the victim's or alleged offender's commander or law enforcement. Victims of domestic abuse who desire to make a restricted report under this policy MUST report the abuse to one of the following specific individuals: a Victim Advocate, a Victim Advocate Supervisor, or healthcare provider. Additionally, a victim's disclosure of his or her domestic abuse to persons other than those covered by this policy may result in an investigation of the allegations by law enforcement and clinical intervention from FAP.
Exceptions to Confidentiality and Restricted Reporting and Limitations on Use-Information regarding a restricted report may be disclosed to the following persons or entities for the following reasons:
- Named individuals when disclosure is authorized by the victim in writing.
- Command officials or law enforcement when necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of the victim or another person.
- FAP and any other agencies authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect when, as a result of the victim’s disclosure, the Victim Advocate or healthcare provider has a reasonable belief that child abuse has also occurred. However, disclosure will be limited only to information related to the child abuse.
- Disability Retirement Boards and officials when disclosure by a healthcare provider is required for fitness for duty for disability retirement determinations, limited only to that information which is necessary to process the disability retirement determination.
- Supervisors of the Victim Advocate or healthcare provider when disclosure is required for the supervision of direct victim treatment or services.
- Military or civilian courts of competent jurisdiction when a military, Federal or State judge issues a subpoena for the covered communications to be presented to the court or to other officials or entities when the judge orders such disclosure; or to other officials or entities when required by Federal or State statute or applicable U.S. international agreement.
When Might I Need to Speak with a Victim Advocate?
Even if you are unsure of whether you are in a relationship that is characterized by domestic abuse, or if your friend or colleague is in such a relationship, you can speak with a Victim Advocate anonymously. Our Victim Advocates are trained to provide individuals with information, resources, emotional support and to discuss available options with Service Members, their Spouses and/or Intimate Partners.
National Hotline for Victims of Domestic Abuse
The National Hotline for victims of domestic abuse is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The toll-free number is: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).