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DOD Takes New Measures to Address the Digitalization of Domestic Violence

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 Nov. 5, 2020

The Department of Defense announced today a new training course is available for military first responders designed to help keep military families safe, support victims, and ensure that domestic violence is effectively recognized as a crime in cases including abuse, harassment, and stalking through technology.

Together with the DOD Family Advocacy Program, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security’s Law Enforcement Branch launched a training course to help military first responders understand the role of technology in abuse, and how a greater awareness of digital evidence can help with the prosecution of domestic violence cases.

Designed and developed by the Defense Cyber Crime Center Training Academy, the course covers how the misuse of technology can lead to the escalation of domestic abuse, and how military law enforcement can follow the technological evidence in a case. It combines lessons on the dynamics of domestic abuse, including how to coordinate with the Family Advocacy Program, the best practices for the detection of risk, and industry standards for the collection of digital evidence.

While the course is intended for a primary audience of military police and security forces, who are often the first to respond to a domestic violence call, commanders and FAP personnel will also benefit. Anyone with a Common Access Card can access the training on the Defense Cyber Crime Center Training Academy site.

The launch of this training comes at a particularly difficult time for anyone experiencing abuse, as more Americans are logging more hours online than ever before. This opens up greater vulnerabilities for domestic abuse victims, who frequently experience cyber harassment, stalking and surveillance from an abusive spouse or partner.

Domestic abuse — including through technology — has increased among the general population during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. This training course is just one way the DOD is supporting service members and military families at a time when they may be more vulnerable due to the forced isolation brought on by the global outbreak.

“Our priority is to respect, support and defend domestic abuse victims,” said Matthew P. Donovan, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “We are proud to launch this first-ever DOD training course on ‘Technology Evidence in Domestic Abuse.’ This training is a vital piece of our effort to ensure our military’s law enforcement organizations understand that domestic violence perpetrated through technology is still a crime.”

Other efforts underway to enhance the safety of domestic abuse victims include a newly-installed Safe Exit button available on Military OneSource content. This feature, which is commonplace for victim services agencies, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, was introduced by the DOD because of the heightened need for individuals to seek information on help for abuse during COVID-19.

The Safe Exit button allows the user to instantly exit an article and view a general website in its place, one not specific to abuse. This helps ensure the victim’s safety online if their abuser enters the room while they are researching information.

In addition to increasing tools to enhance the response to domestic abuse, DoD is evolving its prevention approach to more holistically address the underlying factors that contribute to multiple forms of violence, abuse, and self-harm. DoD recently released an integrated violence prevention policy, which establishes new requirements for domestic abuse prevention and creates a unified approach to the prevent suicide, sexual assault, harassment, domestic abuse, and child abuse. This new, integrated policy leverages current and emerging advancements in the field and connects the dots among multiple existing efforts rather than implementing prevention activities in silos.

Visit the DOD Family Advocacy Program’s national Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign website. Know the National Domestic Violence Hotline number, 800-799-7233, and make sure victims know that help is available.

About the Family Advocacy Program

FAP leads policy for the DOD to prevent and respond to domestic abuse and intimate partner violence by raising awareness as to the risk factors and early warning signs, providing support and resources to victims and collaborating with military and civilian organizations to promote a coordinated community response to interpersonal violence.


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