Domestic violence among service members

Spousal abuse is a problem that plagues countless families in Florida and across the country. Having family members in the armed forces, you should know that there are military-related issues that may contribute to or exacerbate a domestic violence problem.

Each year between 2009 and 2014, there are about 8,000 domestic violence complaints reported among families with one or more active-duty members in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force. If you have been the victim of domestic violence by a spouse in the military, you are aware of the fear and anxiety this situation can bring, which may be different from abuse situations that civilian families endure. Domestic violence involving a spouse in the military may include the following factors:

  • Frequent moves from place to place or deployments causing upheaval and stress in the family
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder contributing to anger and violent episodes
  • A spouse with combat training and use of deadly weapons

It is important for you to know that none of the above issues should ever excuse your spouse’s violence toward you or your children. If you find yourself fearing for your safety, you need to take measures to protect your children and yourself.

Before reporting the abuse to the authorities, including your spouse’s superiors in the military, you may find it helpful to document evidence of the abuse. You might take pictures of injuries and keep a journal of your spouse’s behavior and attacks. It is also a good idea to set aside money to use in an emergency and put clothing and important belongings in a safe place if you need to make an escape. Be sure that someone you trust is aware of your situation and able to help – including getting you to an abuse shelter or safe place to stay.

When you are dealing with an abusive situation, you have allies on your side to help you find safety and peace. These may include law enforcement and a family law attorney with experience in military domestic violence cases.

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