Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Received Counseling from the Army’s Morale Welfare and Recreation Program

Morale, Welfare and Recreation logo

The MWR and the FAP

The Morale Welfare and Recreation Program (MWR) houses the Family Advocacy Program (FAP). The FAP contains a section that handles domestic violence. If you don’t know where to look, start at the base hospital.

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 and willingly helps abuse victims. Victims with substantiated claims qualify for financal support, too.

A “substantiated” claim of abuse is the kind with proof that you are a victim of abuse by the soldier you live with. When you go in to check out the domestic violence program at the FAP, ask the advocates what kind of proof you need for them to substantiate your claims. Then collect that proof if you don’t already have it.

Army and Domestic Violence - soldiers lose their careers if they're found guilty in criminal court. This isn't the first option chosen. Go to the Army DSS.

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 receive counseling on base.

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.

As far as the Army FAP, I didn’t want to accomplish anything at that time. I went to counseling one time so I could clear Will’s name as he requested (I was still following orders to keep the “peace”).

I felt violated because the Army seemed to be nosing into my business late in the game. They didn’t care about the police report until almost three months after the incident occurred, and at that point, I thought the FAP was 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. I don’t know what proof they needed, but I was invested in loyalty to my abuser, hoping that this event had opened his eyes to what was going on with us. … And that he would stop abusing all of us.

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 domestic abuse–all types of abuse–to the FAP. 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.

Additionally, the FAP does not report to your abuser that you’ve been to their department unless you make an official report against your abuser.

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 usually qualify for Transitional Compensation. In my case in 2010, that would have been $1600/month for three years, plus health insurance and commissary privileges. I do not know if you can receive that benefit if you are not separating.
  • You do not have to go through the FAP to divorce your abusive soldier. However, if you file a report, the Army will see it on the blotter report and will initiate its own investigation. The military investigation may not come for quite a while.
  • You can initiate proceedings through the MWR/FAP at any time. Your case may or may not be substantiated and pursued. Like any claim of domestic violence, the more proof you have, the better. Remember to ask what types of evidence would help substantiate your claims when you scope out the FAP domestic violence plan.
  • 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.

The featured image is the logo of Morale Welfare and Recreation.