Based on the prevalence of TBI, PTSD and MST among veterans it is safe to assume that these issues could exist simultaneously, or “co-occur,” complicating responses to trauma. Within the context of domestic violence perpetration, survivors may face additional challenges, not necessarily present in cases where perpetrators do not have a military history or current military affiliation. The following examples describe dynamics that may exist among intimate partners experiencing domestic violence within the military context. However, many other combinations of these complex themes are also possible, such as when both victim and perpetrator are service members or veterans.
Co-occurring issues: impact
For a domestic violence survivor, her/his partner may have returned from the war a changed person with new and ongoing needs for care and support related to TBI, PTSD, MST or other mental health related issues. In some cases, this set of problems can generate devastating results for the survivor who has to deal with an additional layer of guilt that could prevent her/him from seeking help or ending the relationship.
Being a civilian accessing services within the military system
Civilian domestic violence victims/survivors may know little about military practices, regulations and effective interventions. It is often the fear of potentially “ruining” the perpetrator’s career if a report is made. This is particularly challenging in cases where the perpetrator is active duty personnel, or where the perpetrator is the primary source of income for the family. Both of these instances create concrete economic challenges for the survivor to navigate.