System Is Failing Abused Army Wife
Dear Ms. Vicki,
I am currently separated from my spouse. We are stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Our separation stems from his ongoing affairs with both female and other male soldiers.
Upon my discovering these affairs, he agreed to counseling with our chaplain and to anger management therapy due to his behavior during our disagreements. The absolute worst incident was in October 2015, when he picked me up and slammed me down, fracturing my ribs.
After months of counseling and no improvement, we agreed to separate in January. He wrote an agreement, signed it and had it notarized. The agreement allows me to keep the family vehicle and to stay in our home on post until my children finish school in June.
In February, he became violent with me again. He grabbed my neck and pushed me down several times and then he threw a rock through my child's window. I reported that incident and, as a result, a Military Protection Order (MPO) was issued.
He violated that order several times without having any consequences. I was forced to get a protective order through the local courts. My husband hired an attorney, but I could not afford one due to him cutting off all support with the exception of government housing.
I was able to obtain a 12-month Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) from North Carolina, which he violated the following day. In fact, his command actually brought him to my home on post in violation of that order.
I have been to the Inspector General (IG) and filed several complaints regarding actions taken by his command. There was a Case Review Committee (CRC) hearing, and several incidents of abuse against me and my child were substantiated. The recommendations for his actions are simply for him to receive counseling.
His attorney has just informed me that I now have to vacate our home on post due to the Army's policy of not allowing families to remain in housing after separation.
I have been to the legal office, to the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) and I have a Victim's Advocate, but no one seems to have any advice for me. I cannot afford a civilian attorney to assist me.
Due to the situation my spouse left me in with my three minor children, I have spent months going to food pantries and have basically been shunned by everyone I have attempted to receive advice or assistance from on Fort Bragg.
Do you have any advice that may be helpful? Thank you.
-- Victim of Domestic Violence
I am so sorry to hear about this. Honestly, my heart truly goes out to you and your children.
I hear from other female and male spouses at many military installations who say they are also experiencing and reporting domestic violence and nothing is being done about it.
These spouses are following the advice I'm giving them, and it isn't doing them any good. They are involving the MPs or the police off the installation, FAP, commanders, Victim's Advocates, taking out restraining and protective orders and contacting base legal and IG, and yet incidents of severe and extreme domestic violence are still occurring, as in your case.
This should not continue. You shouldn't have to beg for food or visit food pantries, but I would rather see you do that than die at the hands of your husband. You really do have to just stay away from him because none of the measures that are in place to protect you and your children from him is helping.
Your situation really angers me. I worked in FAP, and I have to say I was often puzzled because the board would choose to substantiate little things with no validity. From your report, you are experiencing blatant domestic violence and no one is doing anything about it.
I am very worried about you. Please know that I am thinking about you and your children. I'm listing the contact information for two organizations that I want you to call. Let me hear from you when you can.
** The Domestic Violence Hotline will provide temporary housing for you and your children. FAP and your Victim's Advocate should be telling you this; you need to call this hotline now. They are available 24/7. They will help you with protective housing and other resources that you need. Their number is 800-799-SAFE.
** The Legal Aid Society of North Carolina has an office in Fayetteville and they offer free legal assistance. Their number is 866-219-LANC; online www.legalaidnc.org.
-- Ms. Vicki
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