The Advocate Magazine 2022 Issue 3 | Page 15

Domestic Violence Against Military Men : Let ’ s Bring Equality to Screening and Prevention

After he was late to work for the fourth time in a month , I concluded that something must be going on with him . He had been one of the sharpest troops in our office , but his work performance was declining , and he didn ’ t seem like his usual self . When I asked him multiple times if everything was okay , he always said yes . He and his wife had just had a baby , so I tried to dismiss my concerns as the challenges of adapting to the demands of military life after welcoming a new baby .
I spent a couple of weeks trying to determine if he had developed a substance abuse problem or if he had gotten into some sort of financial trouble . I considered marital issues , but I ’ d overheard him calling home faithfully to check on his wife and their children . Though he stopped coming in late for work , he never returned to the spirited , enthusiastic airman I had known for more than five years .
Miya Moore-Felton , APCC , AMFT , is a U . S . Air Force retiree and Associate Professional Clinical Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist in California . As a doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at Regent University , her research focuses on veteran and military-related issues and trauma . She also serves as an adjunct professor in graduate counseling programs at Holy Names University and Grace College .
One day , months after my original concern , the military police summoned me immediately to the military base housing due to a domestic violence situation . When the military police provided the address , it hit me like a ton of bricks . This was the home of my troop . I was instantly angered ; he knew better than to hit a woman , and this incident could end his military career . But when I arrived and the officer explained the details , I realized I had it all wrong . My troop was not the perpetrator of domestic violence . He was the victim .
During my earlier investigation into his changed behavior , I had missed the periodic scratches and bruises hidden beneath his military uniform . I later learned that he had stopped inviting coworkers over to his home because there was a large hole in the wall from when his wife threw a skillet at him for not answering her calls all day . I felt shame , anger , frustration , and hopelessness , as this incident opened my eyes to an epidemic within the military community .
Domestic violence , also known as intimate partner violence ( IPV ) ( see the box below for the distinction between the two terms ), was classified as a health crisis decades ago , with physical violence emphasized as the primary characteristic . However , the definition of domestic violence issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) includes sexual abuse , stalking , and psychological or mental abuse , bit . ly / 3NwPY71 .
Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence
Though “ domestic violence ” and “ intimate partner violence ” ( IPV ) have often been used interchangeably to describe a violent behavior or abuse in a relationship , the terms have begun to take on different meanings . Domestic violence now tends to refer to violence that takes place within the home , while IPV occurs between romantic partners .
In other words , in a domestic violence situation , a person would feel in danger from one or multiple people they live with . In an IPV situation , a person would feel in danger from one or more people they are closely involved with , whether or not they live together .
Psychological abuse may contain some controlling behaviors that some people misconstrue as expressions of their partner ’ s romantic interest . For example , an abuser might force a partner to share their GPS location ; require excessive telephone calls throughout the day ( even though the partner ’ s supervisor or job duties may not allow frequent personal calls ); and share details of a partner ’ s life on social media — without their permission — to embarrass , control , or manipulate . More overt features of psychological abuse may include threatening divorce or taking full custody of the couple ’ s children while the military member is deployed , depleting a partner ’ s bank account , or assuming financial debt in the partner ’ s name without their permission .
continued on page 16 The Advocate Magazine 2022 , Issue # 3 American Mental Health Counselors Association ( AMHCA ) www . amhca . org