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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 2, 2023

Uniting against domestic abuse

By Johanna MacGillivray, Family Advocacy Program Manager, and AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG writer

The Coast Guard partners with the DoD for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) to stand United Against Domestic Abuse, a campaign which calls for the military community to share information about preventing domestic abuse and support those who have experienced it.  

If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship, you don't have to face it alone.

The strength and unity of our military community presents a unique opportunity for this year’s campaign. It consists of supporting victims, modeling and promoting safe and healthy relationships, providing ways for individuals to set boundaries within their relationships, and ensuring a network of assistance during stressful or unsafe times. Let’s acknowledge our role in keeping everyone safe and support their resilience in the face of adversity, while showing those directly affected that help is available. 

To learn how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse, assist individuals in unhealthy relationships, and connect victims with help, you can reach out to the resources below:  

  • The Coast Guard’s Family Advocacy Program - If you are a victim of intimate partner abuse or need help with feeling safe online or in your relationship, contact your local Work-Life Field Office Family Advocacy Program at 202-475-5100. A Family Advocacy Specialist is available to offer free and confidential support, counseling, safety planning, and resources. Points of contact are Johanna MacGillivray, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Advocacy Program Manager, 202-475-5161, or Marshe Milbourne-Jackson, Licensed Professional Counselor, HSWL Service Center FAP Coordinator, 757-628-4374. 
  • CG SUPRT is available to assist active-duty members, reservists, civilian employees, and family members with a full range of issues such as financial matters, relationship discord and other work life stressors. Call 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778). 
  • The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) Safe Harbor Program provides grants and interest-free loans needed for shelter, food, transportation, and childcare costs. Email Jessica Manfre, CGMA's case manager, or call 571-438-9501.  
  • Coast Guard Legal Assistance  provides advice and counsel regarding personal legal matters at no cost. 
  • Coast Guard Chaplains are invaluable resources. Call 1-855-USCG-CHC (872-4242). 
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides information regarding shelters, housing, counseling, job training, and legal assistance in your area. Call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). 
  • The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline provides support to those concerned about or affected by child abuse and offers appropriate, individualized guidance. Call 1-800-422-4453.  

Military service members and families have two ways to report domestic abuse:   

  • Restricted reporting (also known as private and confidential reporting), which preserves the privacy of adult victims and limits who is involved, except under certain circumstances 
  • Unrestricted reporting, where victims can enlist law enforcement to investigate an incident, which includes contacting the alleged abuser and command.  

The goal of the CG Family Advocacy Program is to promote safe and healthy relationships for a mission ready workforce. The CG Family Advocacy Program prevents and responds to allegations of Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA), Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN), and Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth (PSB-CY).  The CG Family Advocacy Program offers:  

  • prevention services,  
  • education, 
  • early identification,  
  • risk and safety planning,  
  • psychosocial assessments,  
  • individual, couples and family counseling,  
  • referrals to treatment and rehabilitation services,  
  • referrals for emergency services, legal assistance, and housing.  

The Family Advocacy Specialists are licensed providers who support victims and others affected by domestic abuse. If needed, the Family Advocacy Specialists located at Regional Health, Safety, and Work-Life offices can help victims get a military or civilian protection order. Your Family Advocacy Specialist can help you understand the options for reporting, document your domestic abuse, create a safety plan, provide services, and connect you to a network of support.