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He Started Therapy for PTSD But Is Still Being Abusive to His Wife

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I need some advice. My husband was diagnosed with severe PTSD about eight months ago after a year and a half of undiagnosed torment for both of us.

He was in combat, which is what caused the PTSD.

He physically abused me up until eight months ago, when he started going to regular therapy and got on medication. He is still verbally, emotionally and mentally abusive when we get into fights.

He can still be a bit grabby, and he sometimes gets in my face, but it's nothing like it used to be.

I don't know what else he can do for himself to get help and change, but I'm not sure what I need to do now. I need therapy or something, but I don't know where to go.

Please give me some solid advice and some numbers I can call for therapy or something. I love him and don't want to divorce him.

We've been through so much; I don't want to give up.

-- Love Hurts

Dear Love,

I understand that you don't want to divorce your husband, but you can't stay in an abusive relationship.

I can definitely empathize with his combat experience and subsequent PTSD diagnosis. However, he can still be responsible for his behavior.

Hitting, grabbing your face, and being emotionally and verbally abusive is not good. I can't imagine what it was like for you eight months ago if this now is better.

I do agree that you would benefit from therapy and support. Generally speaking, you should be able to have a few couples sessions with your husband where he is currently receiving therapy.

But I wonder if your husband is really committed to therapy. Is he attending his weekly sessions? It may be a long road to his recovery, but there is help. Every day marks a new step forward.

I'm not sure where you live, but you can check on post or base for the availability of services at the same place where your husband receives therapy.

If there are not services available, contact Military OneSource for 24/7 support at 800-342-9647. Military OneSource can also connect you with a therapist in your community.

You can also call the Defense Center of Excellence DCOE for 24/7 support at 866-966-1020, or chat at www.dcoe.mil with a trained clinician.

It's going to take both you and your husband fighting to save your marriage, but PTSD is treatable. I know many people who have gotten better because they worked hard in treatment.

Right now, though, you must protect yourself. And if you have children, you must think about them too. I will never advise any man or woman to stay in an abusive relationship, no matter the cause.

When people are screaming, yelling, hitting, pushing and whatnot, who can say what will happen next? Thanks for writing and for listening. Let me hear from you soon.

-- Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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