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June 25, 2013

What is the Family Advocacy Program (FAP)?

The Department of Defense (DOD) established the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) to address family violence in military families. The FAP is designed to prevent, identify, report and treat all aspects of child abuse and neglect and domestic abuse/violence through outreach, prevention and intervention efforts. FAP staff is supposed to work closely and collaboratively with military commands, military law enforcement personnel, medical staff, family center personnel and chaplains, as well as civilian organizations and agencies, to prevent family violence and help troops and families develop healthier relationships.*

* Department of Defense website, Family Advocacy Program

What happens after the FAP receives a report of abuse?

After the FAP receives a report of abuse from you or from whoever you have reported it to, the FAP is required to act immediately. The FAP will assign a counselor to begin an investigation and to offer immediate services. The FAP counselor should talk to you and the abuser separately to get more information about what happened in order to develop recommendations for services or treatment that will help end the abuse.*

The information gathered during the investigation will be presented to the Case Review Committee (CRC) and they will make a determination if they believe that domestic abuse or violence has occurred. The CRC uses the language “substantiated” for when they do believe that abuse/violence has occurred and “unsubstantiated” if they do not believe that it has occurred. The CRC includes social workers, a victim advocate, counselors, chaplains, medical and legal personnel and a representative of command. On some installations, the immediate supervisor of the alleged abuser is also invited to attend the review.**

The CRC will consider if the abuser seems like a good candidate for battering intervention and treatment and possibly alcohol treatment or other specific individual services. They will recommend to command who makes the ultimate decision as to whether the abuser should undergo intervention and treatment or if a court martial and separation from the Service is instead going to be appropriate.*

* See Department of Defense website, Family Advocacy Program
** See Department of Defense website, Glossary and Domestic Abuse, Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen to the abuser if I make a non-confidential report of domestic abuse or violence?

If you make a non-confidential (unrestricted) report of domestic abuse/violence by a military service member who is/was your spouse or intimate partner, then the Family Advocacy Program ("FAP") will become involved.  The FAP may recommend treatment for the abuser or other services through the Case Review Committee (CRC).  To read more about the FAP and the CRC, go to What happens after the FAP receives a report of abuse?

The abuser's commander will have full authority to decide how to handle the report of abuse.  The punishment could range from documenting the behavior in the service member's record book to ordering clinical treatment to taking any disciplinary action or punishment s/he believes is appropriate.*

In most cases, if no prior domestic abuse or violence has been reported to FAP and the nature of the abuse/violence is not life-threatening, most commanders will order the abuser to comply with the treatment recommendations of the FAP.  If there have been several prior reports, if the abuser has previously been provided treatment, or if the nature of the violence is extreme, then the commander may decide to pursue a civilian criminal case, administratively separate your spouse from the military or begin court-martial proceedings.

* See "The Military Response to Victims of Domestic Violence, Tools for Civilian Advocates," published by the Battered Women's Justice Project