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Domestic Violence

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Child Abuse
Command Help


Navy leaders may encounter sailors experiencing distress as a result of domestic and child abuse. Abuse is preventable and is often treatable if addressed promptly. Through prevention, Navy leaders can promote family resilience and sailor mission readiness. Therefore, knowing how to prevent abuse and respond to reports of abuse is crucial to mission readiness.

This section will provide Navy leaders with the tools necessary to identify acts of abuse; respond appropriately to reports; and incorporate awareness and prevention efforts within their commands.


Domestic Abuse: May include acts of violence, domestic violence, or a pattern of behavior resulting in emotional/psychological abuse and economic control, used to gain or maintain power and control over:

  • a current or former spouse;
  • a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common; or
  • a current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile.

Domestic abuse cuts across all age groups and social classes. It happens to sailors as well as spouses; to men as well as women. Whenever an adult is placed in physical danger or controlled by threat or use of physical force by their spouse or intimate partner, she or he has been abused.

Domestic Violence: An offense under the United States Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or state law that involves the non-accidental use, attempted use, or threatened use of force or violence against a person of the opposite sex.

Examples of Domestic Violence (commonly referred to as physical abuse) include but are not limited to:

A Sailor being physically abused by his wife.
  • Slapping
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Grabbing or yanking
  • Scratching
  • Pulling hair
  • Hitting
  • Using a weapon
  • Pinching
  • Restraining
  • Strangling
  • Shaking
  • Biting

Examples of Emotional/Psychological Abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Berating, disparaging, degrading, or humiliating the victim.
  • Interrogating the victim.
  • Restricting the victim’s ability to come and go freely (when unwarranted).
  • Threatening victim (including but not limited to indicating/implying future physical harm, sexual assault).
  • Restricting the victim’s access to or use of economic resources (when unwarranted), military and civilian services (including but not limited to taking away a dependent’s ID).
  • Isolating victim from family, friends, and social support.
  • Stalking the victim (including but not limited to monitoring email correspondence, voicemail messages and daily activities).
  • Harming or indicating/implying harm to people/things that victim cares about, such as children, self, other people, pets and property.

Spouse or Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: A sexual act or sexual contact with the spouse or intimate partner, without the consent of the spouse or intimate partner, or against the expressed wishes of the spouse or intimate partner. Corroboration of the report of the spouse or intimate partner is NOT required.

Examples of Spouse or Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse include but are not limited to:

  • The use of physical force to compel the partner to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact against his or her will.
  • The use of a physically aggressive act or use of one’s body, size, or strength, or an emotionally aggressive act to coerce the partner to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact.
  • A sexual act or sexual contact involving a partner who is unable to provide consent. The victim is unable to understand the nature or conditions of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act because of illness, disability, being asleep, being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or other reasons.


Although certain risk factors may make a person more likely to commit abuse or be a victim of abuse, risk factors alone do not cause domestic abuse. Many experts believe that domestic abuse is a learned behavior reinforced by society or culture. Many Sailors and their family members who experience risk factors cope well and are not abusive to their spouse. Some risk factors commonly associated with domestic abuse are:

Regretfully reflecting on the psychological abuse she doles out to her husband and children on a daily basis.
  • Holding attitudes that condone abusive behavior in relationships.
  • Membership in a peer group that condones violence as an acceptable means to an end.
  • Engaging in verbal arguments that escalate to include name-calling and ridiculing.
  • Living with unresolved and chronic marital conflict.
  • Social isolation or lack of social support.
  • Living with unresolved and chronic stress.
  • Couples with poor coping skills.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Depression or other mental health diagnosis.
  • Financial problems.
  • Unemployment of the civilian spouse.


  • Fear of negative career consequences.
  • Fear of negative or ridiculing peer group reaction.
  • If victimized, fear of escalating abuse especially if outside agencies or supervisors become involved.
  • If victimized, fear of not being believed or supported by supervisor or command.
  • Denial of the problem or minimization of the abuse as normal or not that bad.
  • Blames the victim for the abuse (he/she made me abusive).
  • Fear that reporting may result in loss of children, partner, status, etc.
  • Little confidence in advocacy or helping services to make a difference or to provide safety.



Physical Abuse: The non-accidental use of physical force on the part of a child’s caregiver. Examples of child physical abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Hitting
  • Dropping
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Grabbing or yanking
  • Hair-pulling
  • Pinching
  • Restraining or squeezing
  • Shaking
  • Hitting with an object
  • Stabbing
  • Strangling or applying force to throat
  • Holding under water
  • Brandishing or using a weapon.

Child Emotional Abuse: The non-accidental use of physical force on the part of a child's caregiver.

A Child cowers in fear of his overbearing, delusional, tempermental mother.
  • Berating, disparaging, degrading, scape-goating, or humiliating child
  • Threatening child (including, but not limited to, indicating/implying future physical harm, abandonment, sexual assault)
  • Harming/abandoning - or indicating that alleged abuser will harm/abandon - people/things that child cares about, such as pets, property, loved ones
  • Confining child (a means of punishment involving restriction of movement, such as tying a child’s arms or legs together or binding a child to a chair, bed, or other object, or confining a child to an enclosed area [such as a closet])
  • Coercing the child to inflict pain on him/her (including, but not limited to, ordering child to kneel on split peas/rice for long periods or ordering child to ingest highly spiced food)
  • Disciplining child (through physical or non-physical means) excessively (i.e., extremely high frequency or duration, though not meeting physical abuse criteria)

Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual activity by a caregiver with a child to gratify the sexual desire of any person including the child.

Some examples include:

  • Sexual exploitation without direct contact: forcing, tricking, enticing or threatening a child to participate in acts to gratify sexual desire of anyone without direct physical contact between the child and abuser (such as, having the child pose or undress, exposing the child to pornography).
  • Use of force, emotional manipulation, trickery, threats and taking advantage of the child's youth to engage in penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus with the penis, hand, finger or other objects.
  • Physical contact of a sexual nature such as attempted penetration or mouth, anus or vagina, fondling, harassing or degrading any person.

Child Neglect: The negligent treatment of a child through acts or omissions below the lower bounds of normal care giving, which shows a striking disregard for the child's well-being under circumstances indicating the child's welfare has been harmed or threatened by the deprivations of age-appropriate care. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of supervision based upon child’s age and level of functioning.
  • Exposure to physical hazards (exposed electrical wiring, broken glass, non-secured, loaded firearms in the home, illegal drugs, dangerous pets).
  • Failure to provide appropriate health care, including medical, dental and mental health services.
  • Knowingly allowing the child to have extended and frequent absences from school.
  • Failing to provide age-appropriate nourishment, shelter or clothing to a child.
  • The absences of a caregiver with no intent to return or absence for more than 24 hours without having arranged for an appropriate surrogate caregiver.


Although certain risk factors may make a person more likely to commit child abuse, risk factors alone do not cause a parent or caretaker to abuse a child. Many experts believe that child abuse is a learned behavior reinforced by society or culture and is often precipitated by stress and compounded by social isolation. Many Sailors and their family members who experience risk factors cope well and are not abusive to their children. Some risk factors commonly associated with child abuse are:

  • Holding attitudes that condone child maltreatment as appropriate discipline.
  • Growing up in an abusive home and seeing abuse as normal and acceptable.
  • Lacking skill or knowledge in the proper care of infants and children.
  • Holding unrealistic expectations for children at certain ages.
  • Parent or caretaker who is depressed or suffering from a serious mental health disorder.
  • Social isolation or lack of social support.
  • Living with unresolved and chronic stress coupled with poor coping skills.
  • Abusing substances.
  • Cultural beliefs that endorse abusive behaviors.
  • Financial problems.
  • Having a special needs child or a child that is perceived as difficult.




The Command plays a significant role in the prevention of abuse by establishing clear standards for personal behavior, providing early detection of potential problems and intervention before abuse occurs. Leadership is critical in establishing a climate that promotes prevention by encouraging sailors and their families to take advantage of services and programs. Fleet and Family Support Centers offer classes, workshops, seminars and counseling on a wide-variety of topics relevant to sailors and their families. Another significant aspect of the command's prevention effort is promoting victim safety and holding offenders accountable. The Family Advocacy Program is available to assist Navy leaders by providing victim advocacy, clinical counseling and case management services. Some additional ways that Navy leaders can prevent and address abuse are:

  • Report all acts of abuse to the Family Advocacy Program, regardless of whether the sailor is the alleged victim or offender in a timely manner.
  • Ensure that all unit personnel are trained on domestic and child abuse recognition and response.
  • Clearly model, communicate, and reinforce how Navy values apply to couples and parent-child relationships
  • Encourage and allow time for sailors and their families to participate in prevention and intervention programs.
  • Make seeking assistance before problems arise the expected organizational norm.
  • Place informational/educational brochures available through FFR in common easily accessible areas.
  • Publicize and promote Military OneSource as an important resource.
  • Bring FFSC speakers to the unit to provide information on a variety of topics, such as maintaining healthy relationships and effective parenting tools.
  • Become familiar with all FFSC resources including, New Parent Support (NPSP) and Family Advocacy Program (FAP) for ease of referrals.
  • Create a climate that encourages Sailors to support one another and do the right thing by reporting all incidents of domestic and child abuse to FAP and chain of command.


  • Promotes mission readiness by providing prevention and intervention programs that build resilience in sailors and their families through the teaching of important tools.
  • Two Fleet and Family Support Programs, the Family Advocacy Program and the New Parent Support Program are valuable resources to command leadership, sailors and their families.
  • The Family Advocacy Program assists command leadership in promoting safety to sailors and their families through victim advocacy, case management and clinical intervention. FAP personnel are available to assist Navy leaders in appropriately responding to reported acts of abuse. Also FAP staff can connect families to resources as necessary for treatment.
  • The New Parent Support Program (NPSP) is a proactive home visitation program geared toward preventing child abuse. A wide range of services, including home visitation, are provided to expectant Navy families, or those who have young children up to the age of three.
  • Guidance
  • SECNAVINST 1752.3B
  • OPNAVINST 1752.2B


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