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PATRICIA DROWN, PhD, Executive Director, San Clemente Domestic Violence Task Force

Thanks so much for writing the article about the sad number of DV cases within the military. I run the SC DV Task Force, a nonprofit that educates the community on matters of domestic violence.

Unfortunately, this was not a surprise, as many returning Marines and soldiers suffer from PTSD and this can lead to interpersonal violence. Research has also shown a higher rate of domestic violence among NFL players, with law enforcement having the highest incidences, though many of those cases go unreported as the officer will lose both gun and livelihood.

But the question of domestic violence and the military is not a new topic: According to the American Journal of Family Law, “Military families are subject to increased stress with the demands of military readiness and frequent deployments. With the increased number of deployments in the last 12 years, this stress has increased on service members and their families. Complicating matters and increasing family stress is the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) felt by service members returning from numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Unfortunately, one way this stress often manifests itself is through incidents of family violence. This is an area that family law attorneys must be aware of should an appropriate client seek your representation.

According to a 2007 report, Military Nuances in domestic violence by Atlanta-based law firm Shewmaker & Shewmaker: “The Department of Defense (DoD) has recognized that domestic violence is an issue. Consequently, on August 21, 2007, (emphasis added), the DoD issued DoD Instruction Number 6400.06, Domestic Abuse Involving DoD Military and Certain Affiliated Personnel. It is DoD policy to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse in the Department of Defense and to provide for the safety of victims; hold abusers appropriately accountable for their behavior; and coordinate the response to domestic abuse with the local community. This Instruction establishes that each commander has the duty and authority to take action and respond to domestic violence situations.”

Now the question is, why are we still facing these issues 12 years after the DOD directive? And another interesting turn is that I am seeing scholarly literature on bidirectional interpersonal violence.


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