The Army and domestic violence have a long history together. I don’t know if the military creates abusers or if abusers are attracted to the military. Whatever the case, the Army now takes a strong stance against domestic violence.
After the physically violent episode in December 2008, I filed a police report. It took until March 2009 for the Army to pick up on the report. When they did, Will got a call at work and the Army’s Department of Social Services interview process began.
The Army said that Will would not lose his job for domestic violence. They said that Will would receive individual counseling and that our family would also get some Army counseling.
I told the truth, including the fact that I’d slapped him when he called me a cunt. I told them that I didn’t feel comfortable talking to them so long after the fact. I’d also made up my mind to “try to make it work” and to stay with Will during the process. I was less than a desirable client.
What I Hoped to Accomplish
When I made the police report, I hoped that it would serve as a warning to Will. I did not press charges, so we didn’t go to court. The report had a one-year window where I could have pressed charges if I decided to do so. I used the threat of filing another report and pressing charges on both if he put his hands on me again.
So far as the Army DSS, I didn’t want to accomplish anything at that time. I went to the counseling so I could clear Will’s name. I felt violated because the Army seemed to be nosing into my business late in the game. They “didn’t care” about the report until almost three months after the incident occurred, and at that point, they were useless.
As a result, the Army marked the case “unsubstantiated” which meant there wasn’t enough proof to enact military disciplinary action or counseling for the family.
Unfortunately, by the time I got that news I was smack dab in the ugly part of the cycle of abuse again. The “unsubstantiated” classification seemed like a slap in my face.
I recommend that you report any domestic abuse to the military. They have programs and information valuable to domestic abuse victims, including their own support groups. Going to a support group does not require a “substantiated” claim of abuse. It’s available for you no matter what.
However, like all things related to domestic abuse, there are some special thoughts military dependents may want to consider:
If you press charges on your military spouse through civilian channels (sheriff, police) and report the incident to Army DSS, they are likely to “substantiate” or “validate” your claim. Your family and the soldier are likely to receive counseling from the military if you choose to accept it. The soldier’s counseling is mandatory.
If you press charges and go to court and your military spouse is found guilty, you’ll receive counseling and other services and the soldier will most likely receive a Dishonorable Discharge. If the soldier is found guilty of domestic violence in court, victims of domestic violence qualify for Transitional Compensation (Financial). In my case, that would have been $1600/month for three years. The idea seems to be that a Dishonorable Discharge will severely impact the soldiers ability to gain profitable employment, and help for the soldier’s family is necessary.
You do not have to go through the Army counseling to divorce your abusive soldier. However, if you file a report, the Army will see it on the blotter report and will initiate their own investigation.
You can initiate proceedings through the Army DSS at any time. Your case may or may not be substantiated and pursued. Like any claim of domestic violence, the more proof you have in the form of photos (showing physical abuse) and records of abuse (like a diary), the better.
Soldiers NOT CONVICTED in a court of law are unlikely to be discharged, but in reality, you just won’t know until you start the proceedings.