The Advocate Magazine 2022 Issue 3 | Page 18

Include Men When Screening for Domestic Violence
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Men are more likely than women to hide domestic violence from families and associates ; thereby , advocacy for screening and prevention development is imperative . Due to stigmas and societal norms , military men are less likely to report abuse or pursue protection than the general male population . The limited research examining military men and aggression admittedly collects no data on female servicemembers as perpetrators .
Mary Ann Forgey , PhD , a professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Work , conducted one of the only studies that sampled perpetration of domestic violence in male and female servicemembers . She discovered that military members were nearly equal in being perpetrators of domestic violence .
Dr . Forgey ’ s findings are in direct conflict with the annual review of the domestic violence data collected by the U . S . Government Accountability Office ( GAO ) and reported to Congress , bit . ly / 3U6FAFk . However , the GAO identified areas of concern involving inconsistent , incomplete , and inaccurate data collection and reporting , program administration , and training related to domestic violence among military personnel .
Of particular focus is the lack of reporting and resources available to male victims , deficiencies that the GAO attributes to several causes :
• Screening inconsistencies ,
• Variations in the criteria and classification of domestic violence events , and
• The disproportionately less frequent screening of military men by medical and mental health providers .
These findings substantiate a call for mental health providers to take a more significant role in screening men for domestic violence . The GAO ’ s list of action items can be summarized in three primary objectives for domestic violence reporting and prevention about male servicemembers :
• The need for clinicians to identify and report the accurate prevalence of domestic violence perpetration
• The need for enhanced advocacy for resources , domestic violence prevention programs , and multicultural considerations
• The need to adapt evidenced-based traditional and nontraditional treatment approaches .
While medical providers and people in law enforcement tend to gather a significant amount of all domestic violence data reported to national agencies , social science researchers obtain more accurate and diversified reporting rates on domestic violence from both males and females . Providing accurate data can increase protection and support for everyone who is experiencing domestic violence , including overlooked groups , such as men affiliated with the military .
Ensuring accurate data on domestic violence can also spur the Department of Defense and other governmental agencies to implement policies that make reporting easier for male servicemembers . Unfortunately , many mental health providers don ’ t often screen men for domestic violence . Both the 2020 GAO annual report and a 2021 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence titled “ Asking the Right Questions : Screening Men for Partner Violence ,” bit . ly / 3NNP7Pz , reported that men would disclose the abuse if asked by a mental health provider . Military men also stated that they would disclose their victimization if asked by a mental health provider .
Assessment , screening tools , interventions , and treatments available for CMHCs to address domestic violence against women in the military can be adapted to treat men in the military . See the box on page 16 for a list of gender-encompassing screening questions for domestic violence .
Treatment that includes identifying the symptoms and signs of domestic violence demonstrated effectiveness in helping men and women in the military assess their roles as both victims and perpetrators , bit . ly / 3FLBrSP . With adequate psychoeducation and support , victims show improvements in mental health , coping strategies , and readiness to leave their abusive partners .
The call for counselor advocacy in this area is not only to provide better support for military men as victims , though tools adapted to the male population increase awareness , reporting , and chances of survival . Another important result of better screening is that women identified as perpetrators expressed that the screening and prevention programs that contain specific examples of emotional and psychological abuse using genderneutral language helped them gain insight into their situations and facilitated behavioral changes . continued on page 19
18 The Advocate Magazine 2022 , Issue # 3 American Mental Health Counselors Association ( AMHCA ) www . amhca . org