Interviewer: When you’re accused, I would imagine you’re not allowed to have any contact with the victim. Is there any official order issued barring you from any contact?
Chris Cazares: This applies to speaking of things individuals do that can impede their case. Almost immediately after a sexual assault has been reported, the commander will put what is called a ‘no contact’ order in place. That generally applies to both the complainant and to the accused. They’re not supposed to have any contact with one another.
Violating the No Contact Order will Result in an Additional Charge
Often times whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, text messages, individuals believe that nobody will know that they’re trying to contact the other individual. It ends up coming back to bite them because they will be charged with additional misconduct of disobeying a lawful order.
Interviewer: What happens if you’re working in the same physical area as the victim?
Chris Cazares: That’s one of the things the unit generally takes care of right away. They reassign the individuals to different sections, and they put them in different commands in order to alleviate that issue.
Interviewer: Domestic violence is an off-shoot of this, is that right?
Chris Cazares: Yes.
Interviewer: What is it referred to in the military, sexual battery?
Chris Cazares: Assault and battery. It’s just a different form of assault.
Interviewer: It’s not sexual assault or a sex crime instead it is assault on a family member?
Chris Cazares: It is assault, but it falls under a different article, I believe it is Article 128.
The Number Assault and Battery Charges Directed at Military Members Have Been Gradually Increasing
Interviewer: Do you know how many cases there are? Are they rare?
Chris Cazares: I think that they’re increasing particularly over the last ten years. One of the greatest stresses on a military member is deployment. Often times it leaves families and relationships in shambles.
Deployment Can Result in Stress to Military Members and Their Families
Individuals will come back from war zones and they will be in situations where they’re not able to communicate effectively with their spouse and children. One way or the other, some type of domestic violence occurs or is alleged and from there it goes to the investigative stage.
Interviewer: Do you see it happen more when people come back after being deployed or do you see it as the result of other scenarios?
Chris Cazares: I think deployment is probably the most common. The second is PTS, when military members are changing duty stations from one to another. Any time there is a high stressor around the family, that’s when domestic violence is at risk of occurring.
Then on the flip side, when someone is falsely accused of domestic violence it usually the stressor. If you looked at the stressors of two married individuals, you’re going to find a reason why someone needed to fabricate a truth.
The Military Has Different Criteria for Domestic Violence
Interviewer: In the domestic violence cases you see, what constitutes domestic violence versus a regular assault? Is it only against a wife or could be a brother or sister? Is it anyone living in their home?
Chris Cazares: It’s different than what we see in civilian statutes. It really does get charged just as an assault, so there’s no specific Article that pertains to abuse of family members.