The Advocate Magazine 2022 Issue 3 | Page 17

Include Men When Screening for
Domestic Violence continued from page 16
Gender stereotypes have resulted in distorted perceptions of family dynamics that often confirm biased views of male dominance , machismo , and aggression . A review of counseling outcomes among military families , bit . ly / 3FOgIhz , demonstrates that exposure to war and combat is only one trait that may contribute to the elevated prevalence of domestic violence since most military members do not experience direct combat .
The work-related stress of a military spouse , frequency of deployments ( combat or non-combat ), frequent relocations of the family , and the constant redefining of family roles are all significant contributors that could influence aggressive behaviors — equally — in men and women .
Some women who self-identified as perpetrating violence against their military spouse stated that the military member had never provoked or reciprocated the violence . The following factors tend to be significant in triggering female perpetrators :
• Previous exposure to domestic violence ( often in childhood )
• Feelings of isolation or exclusion ( due to relocation and failure to form meaningful new relationships )
• Feelings of dependence ( required to give up financial independence or occupation to accompany military spouse )
• Struggle to adapt to new roles ( expectations for a military spouse , parent , work-related roles )
• Medical or mental health issues ( some issues predate the relationship )
Nearly 20 years ago , 32 percent of female enlisted Army members self-identified as committing domestic violence when provided descriptions of the various abuse narratives . Today , the estimate is that nearly 50 percent of domestic violence in military families is perpetrated by women , bit . ly / 3DHN1Mu . Suicide prevention programs within the military have identified domestic violence as a recurring characteristic among those with suicidal ideations or who have committed suicide . This has heightened the importance of government and civilian partners accurately reporting prevalence .
Clinical Mental Health Counselors are essential in providing non-identifiable data and statistics ( demographics , diagnosis , treatment outcome , etc .) to national agencies . Some CMHCs who are registered as providers for nonprofits or for community mental health centers and Tricare insurance panels are asked to participate in surveys designed to track mental health services provided to current military members , veterans , and their families . CMHCs ’ participation in these data-collection surveys can aid efforts to develop appropriate resources for men and better domestic violence training for mental health counselors who serve this population .
Another barrier to understanding the scope of domestic violence against male members of the military is that much of the research cited , even within the past couple of years , refers to data from 10 or more years ago . Additionally , Military Times , in a May 2021 article , reported on the GAO ’ s nearly two-year-long audit of the DoD , saying that :
“ Because they don ’ t collect data on all domestic abuse allegations , ‘ DoD is unable to assess the scope of alleged abuse and its rate of substantiation ,’ the auditors stated . DoD hasn ’ t collected comprehensive data about the number of allegations of domestic violence , which has been required by law since 1999 , and data on actions taken by commanders in response to those allegations .”
The Department of Defense “ recorded over 40,000 domestic abuse incidents involving military servicemembers , spouses , or intimate partners from FY 2015 – 19 . Of these , 74 percent were physical abuse ,” according to the U . S . Government Accounting Office ( GA0 ), www . gao . gov / products / gao-21-289 .
Societal assumptions have left military men vulnerable to violence from their partners and with limited mental health support as victims . The prevalence of domestic violence against military service members is a growing concern ; trends indicate that military men are increasingly becoming victims of domestic violence .
It can be challenging for both men and women to identify the characteristics of domestic violence — and to identify their partner as abusive . If a CMHC asks a male client if he is a victim of physical abuse , he most likely will say no . But if the CMHC asks questions that describe specific scenarios that indicate the likelihood of abuse , abused men are more likely to give an affirmative response . continued on page 18 The Advocate Magazine 2022 , Issue # 3 American Mental Health Counselors Association ( AMHCA ) www . amhca . org