Free «Family Advocacy Case Study» Essay Sample

Family Advocacy Case Study

Many veterans and current military members suffer from symptoms of PTSD, anxiety or depression. These conditions increase the frequency of domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence deal with psychological abuse more often than physical abuse but this does not mean that the issue is not threatening. Therefore, all military members should try to receive mental health care. The current paper will discuss the symptoms of domestic violence, course of treatment, possible barriers to treatment and the ways of interacting with the command and local authorities. Besides, the essay will provide an evaluation of the plan’s effectiveness and analysis of jurisdictional rules. Domestic violence in families of military men is a complex issue, so it requires careful assessment of all risk factors as well as different treatment options and cooperation with the command and local authorities.

Symptoms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be defined as exhibiting frightening behavior, and using violence or abuse against a partner or family member (Trevillion et al., 2015, p.1330). Aranson and his colleagues (214, p.381) claim that there are three types of domestic violence, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Physical abuse involves hitting, pushing, kicking and other physical actions. Sexual abuse is forcing a partner to have sex or close physical contact. Emotional abuse implies humiliating and isolating the partner as well as other aggressive acts. Such a diversity of the types of domestic violence means that there is a significant number of factors contributing to the issue. First, both an abuser and victim behave in a specific manner. The perpetrator is forcible and controlling. He/she attempts to answer all questions that others ask his/her partner or family member. The abuser may also try to isolate the victim from other people. On the other hand, the person that suffers from domestic violence is quiet and submissive. The victim has such psychological symptoms as anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse (Devries et al., 2013). Probable physical consequences of domestic violence are damage of eardrum, rectal and/or genital injury, tooth loss and scrapes or bruises on different parts of the body (e.g. neck, face, head, and arm).

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Methods Used to Assess the Symptoms

The ER physician can indentify the symptoms during interviewing a patient. In particular, the physician can ask about risk factors for domestic violence (e.g. younger age, symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, depression, personality disorder, unemployment, marital issues, high stress level, and children) and history of violence (Elbogen et al., 2010, p.603). Besides, the clinician can review the medical records of a potential abuser to determine when the patient can receive a psychiatric treatment. Observing the veteran together with his partner would help to indentify the psychological and physical symptoms experienced by a potential victim.


Treatment for individuals and their families requires a complex approach. Thus, Tasso, Whitmarsh, and Ordway (2016, p.116) recommend using attachment-based counseling, mentalization, couple’s counseling and mind-body treatment. Attachment-based counseling is used to analyze the current attachments of a patient and discuss attachments in early childhood. Abusers often have some experiences of abuse in the childhood, so counseling would help to deal with traumas experienced in the past. This is especially important when dealing with the current relationship issues. Mentalization is used when interacting with veterans because it helps to evoke emotional reactions of patients within their attachments (Tasso et al., 2016, p.116). Veterans normally have difficulties with expressing their emotions, which deteriorates their psychological state and relationships with family members. Therefore, mentalization addresses one of the key issues. Mindfulness is a useful treatment option because it helps individuals with traumas to avoid thoughts associated with trauma (Tasso et al., 2016, p.117). Mindfulness helps them to focus on a present moment without any judgments. Counseling of couple helps to devote more attention to the safety of victims and analyze specific aspects of relationships between an abuser and victim. Mind-body approaches (e.g. yoga, herbal and nutrition remedies) are popular among veterans, so clinicians should use them in the course of treatment to satisfy the needs of patients.

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Interacting with the Command the Local Authorities

If the case of domestic violence is detected, it is necessary to inform the command, military police or the Family Advocacy Program (FAP). If the offender is a veteran, it is necessary to report about the case to the local authorities. If caseworkers of FAP detect some cases of abuse, they report to the command. The next step is assessment, which is performed by the civilian law enforcement, military police, the FAP or the command. Afterwards, the Case Review Committee reviews the findings of investigations and FAP makes recommendations for the command. Therefore, the plan of interacting with the command and the local authorities should include reporting to both sides about the case of domestic violence. If the abuser is still in the army, the FAP should make recommendations for the command. The command will then decide what to do with the abuser. The possible responses are disciplinary or administrative actions, FAP treatment or taking no action. Local authorities will punish the civilian abuser.

Jurisdictional Rules

Family advocacy deals with identification, intervention and eradication of domestic violence (Aronson, Perkins, & Olson, 2014, p. 390). It is not a punishment system. Investigation of a case and prosecution of offenders is performed by military law enforcement or civilian law enforcement. In particular, if the abuser is a civilian, the case would be under control of civilian authorities. If the abuser serves in the military, his/her case will be managed by military law enforcement and family advocacy system. If the accident occurs outside the military base, the civilian authorities might receive the jurisdiction but they should inform Family Advocacy about the case. Local police is not required to report to the base command. Military officials have to report to Family Advocacy about all the cases of domestic violence. 

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Barriers to Treatment

The course of treatment might be intervened with a range of barriers. First, military men do not ask for professional help because they are afraid of being perceived as weak in the eyes of their unit leadership (Elbogen et al., 2010, p.603). Besides, they believe that medical records about mental health treatment might have negative effects on their military career. Another reason is that veterans think that they do not have any mental health problems. Even if they agree to undergo treatment, they might hide some information about violence risks. Second, there are some issues related to collecting information about a patient. Although VA Medical Centers have computerized medical patient record system, more than half of the veterans do not go to these centers (Elbogen et al., 2010, p.602). Therefore, the risk violence assessment would require much time. Patient’s family members and friends might provide some facts but it is not enough.

Despite the range of barriers, the treatment can be provided with much success. First, it is necessary to explain the importance of risk assessment. Ignoring issues might lead to negative outcomes for the veteran’s family and this should be explained to the patient. Second, it is necessary to inform a veteran that treatment will not affect his military career. The clinician should report the command only about the cases of abuse but effects on career depend on the severity of an offence. Third, the health specialist can ask the veteran about risk factors for violence and the history of violence as well as review his/her medical records. Summarizing information from different sources would allow determining the real psychological state of a patient and the presence of domestic violence in his/her family.

Effectiveness of the Plan

The plan is expected to be effective due to several reasons. First, it includes careful assessment of risk factors, which allows accurately identifying of the patient’s needs. Second, the plan contains various treatment options, which increases the chances of recovery. Besides, it is recommended to provide some counseling to the veteran’s family, which allows ensuring safety of the victim and analyzing the whole range of factors contributing to the case. Patients might hide some details or refuse to admit that they abuse someone. However, counseling veterans together with their partners or family members would reveal some psychological or physical symptoms of domestic abuse. For example, the behavior of a veteran with his/her intimate partner can provide many signs of domestic violence. Finally, the plan involves close interaction with the command and local authorities, which is important for the careful investigation of a case and appropriate course of action.

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To conclude, domestic violence is a common issue among the families of veterans due to numerous negative effects of military career. Thus, veterans often have symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. They have problems with expressing emotions, finding a job and some addictions. These and other reasons lead to cases of physical, psychological or sexual abuse in veterans’ families. The symptoms of domestic violence are aggression or domination of a veteran and quietness and submission of a victim. The offender tries to isolate the victim from other people. Besides, the abused person can have physical signs of domestic violence, such as cuts or bruises on different parts of body, absence of some teeth or injury of ears. The first step in the course of treatment is risk assessment. Afterwards, the clinician can offer a range of interventions, such as attachment-based counseling, mentalization, couple’s counseling and mind-body treatment. It is important to report to the command or local authorities about the cases of domestic violence because only these systems can detect illegal actions and punish the offenders.