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NEWS | Oct. 16, 2008

Restricted reporting may now be an option for domestic violence

By Julie Couture Family Advocacy Program

The Langley Family Advocacy Program works to prevent and treat all forms of domestic violence in Air Force families. Maltreatment can mean many things, whether it's physically hurting someone, restraining someone, restricting someone's access to base services they are entitled, hurting family pets, stalking, or rape and sexual assault. All of these actions serve one purpose - to allow one person to have control over another.

Individuals living with abuse may have more than one option when it comes to making a report. Typically, commanders and first sergeants are notified when Family Advocacy is informed of a suspected abusive situation. Now, people may have the restricted reporting option.

Restricted reporting is similar to the protocol for sexual assault in that those who disclose the abuse to specific agencies may be eligible. Talking with medical personnel, Family Advocacy, or victim advocates allows people initially to be eligible for restricted reporting. The chaplains automatically offer confidential communication and are not required to report to Family Advocacy.

The differences with sexual assault restricted reporting are twofold. With domestic violence, restricted reporting can not be granted if children witness the violence. This can be considered emotional abuse of a child - all incidents regarding children must be reported.

The other exception to restricted reporting entails safety. If someone is in imminent danger, which is usually indicated by the abuser having threatened their partner, or having used such force or weapons that result in serious injuries, restricted reporting can not be offered. Safety is paramount; living with an abusive partner who inflicts serious harm is about as unsafe as one can get. When this occurs, Family Advocacy must notify Security Forces, command, and OSI to ensure that all parties involved are safe.
If you are in an abusive relationship, Family Advocacy can offer counseling and services to help your relationship become healthier and safer. Family Advocacy offers these services to couples who are married, have a child together, are living together, or have divorced but have since reconciled.

Transitions Family Violence Services operates an emergency shelter for people who are in danger due to domestic violence. In the event you need to leave the person who is hurting you, try to have important documents; driver's license, birth certificates, social security cards with you.

Unfortunately, some couples have significant issues that result in dangerous situations. If this is the case, there are things that can be done. Know who to call in case of an emergency, and keep a list of important documents you will need, such as birth certificates and a driver's license, in case you need to leave.

Family Advocacy is accepting cell phone donations to be used for victims of domestic violence. Cell phones can be dropped off at the FAP office, which is located on the first floor of Aerospace Medicine, building 74.

Air Force families who live with domestic violence can call the Family Advocacy Program at 764-2427. More information on shelter services at Transitions Family Violence Services can be obtained by calling 723-7774.