Spouse Calls: Family safety of first concern
March 29, 2009
Q. My husband has been home for six years from a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. He is scaring me. He has been in counseling for two years, and it seems things are getting worse. He has hit me and both my daughters (not his kids) during this time.
Last week, I started going to counseling myself, because I can’t handle it anymore. He tells me he doesn’t love me one day, and tells me he does the next. He tells me I am beneath him. Now he sleeps with a really big knife he got from over there. We no longer sleep together. I have tried for six long years to stand by him, but it’s tearing my kids and me apart.
I think its time to leave, even if it’s temporary, until I know we are safe. I lost my job two years ago and haven’t been able to find work since. I have no money, and he says his money is his. I have absolutely no money and no one to turn to.
I can’t find any financial help to get out. The Army just doesn’t seem to have a program, or do they? My husband is no longer in the Army Reserves. Last year he got out after 23 years and lost his benefits and retirement. I can’t say how he got out, but he didn’t even tell me he was going to do it but did it on purpose.
What do I do? I hold him and the war responsible. I don’t have any family or friends to help me with this. He has pushed all of my friends out of my life, and I can’t rely on family. Please, someone, help. I am seriously about to beg to the public. I am so scared that I am going to end up a statistic. All I do is hide in my bedroom day after day. I don’t want to fight anymore; I just want to salvage what is left of me.
Does anyone understand this and can anyone help? I have tried Military One Source but they can’t help, and VA only has loans that I don’t qualify for because he is no longer in the Army. I supported the war effort by supporting him while he was there and all the aftereffects. My 18-year-old daughter even spent two years in Iraq and was hit with an IED. She suffered a head injury and spent a year at Walter Reed. I have supported this war. Seriously, where is my support?
A. The behavior you are describing is not just disturbing but criminal. Your husband certainly needs help from professionals, but your first step is to remove yourself and your children from a potentially dangerous situation.
Contact social services or law enforcement in your community immediately. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Your counselor may also have information about local services for victims of abuse.
After you are safe, Army Community Services can answer your questions about the availability of financial aid through military-related sources. There is aid available to servicemembers’ families and families of former service members through Army Emergency Relief. ACS can help you find out if you are eligible.
There is a locator at www.myarmylife too.com to help you find a family service center near you.
If you are not eligible for military programs, then please pursue aid through civilian channels. The National Domestic Violence Hotline lists helpful resources at www.ndvh.org.
These sources can give you help and information, but only you can act on it. I sincerely hope you will.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see the Spouse Calls blog here.