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Transitioning Soldier Is Abusing His Wife

Ms. Vicki

 Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband is an active-duty soldier who served in Afghanistan. He is a good guy and I love him. I'm very happy to be with him.

Unfortunately, he's changing. He becomes very irritable and anxious. At first, he only shouted dirty words loudly when he was playing online games. Then he began to yell and say insulting words to me even though I did nothing wrong.

He could become very irritable for no reason. As an Asian female, I was raised to be gentle and tolerant. I never quarreled with him even when he said insulting words toward me and my parents, who are not living with us.

I’m trying to solve the problem. I intended to talk to him and find out what happened. He yelled at me, "If you can’t bear it, just go!"

I can't remember how long it has been like this. I guess the reason may be that he is leaving the Army. He is approaching middle age. Or maybe he's just tired of me.

Luckily, I find that he can keep calm in front of others. He only insults me when he's sure our friends can’t hear it.

He began to pinch my legs. Now, my legs are blue from bruises. Last month, my low howl was heard by a neighbor and he/she called the police. When the police came, both of us said nothing happened.

He made an appointment with a therapist last week. But he refuses to tell me more about the details.

I don’t want to make any trouble for my husband -- not only because I still love him -- but also because there only a few months before he leaves the Army.

I don't want him be caught or to be kicked out of the Army because of me. At the same time, I feel very helpless about this. I hope he could become normal again, but what should I if he keeps doing this or becomes worse?

Sincerely,
Iris

Dear Iris,

I am very, very concerned about you. You have to understand that you are in an abusive situation that will surely get worse.

Your husband doesn’t think it is a problem to call you names, belittle you and pinch you until you are bruised. This is nothing to ignore.

The reality is that no psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist can predict or know for sure what a person will do. We can look at a person’s history of behaviors, diagnoses, present behaviors, others risks and red flags to help us assess, diagnose and treat individuals.

In my professional opinion, your husband’s behavior raises many red flags that are very dangerous. This is not your fault and you cannot fix the problem or fix him by trying to be a better wife.

You cannot sit in silence when someone is physically and emotionally abusing you. I know this is difficult because this is the man you love. His behavior is not normal, and it’s not acceptable.

Here are some classic signs of an abuser that your husband is displaying, according to your report:

  • He uses different tactics to gain control: humiliation, physical violence, emotional torment, and probably financial control.
  • He changes his behavior when he is with friends. He wants them to think he is normal, trusting and friendly.
  • His behavior turns at the drop of a dime. He is cold and abusive one minute and calm and collected the next minute, answering the door for a policeman.

You are not helping your husband by keeping silent. You have more resources at this time because your husband is still on active duty.

He could be held responsible because of military laws and regulations that support you. When he leaves the Army, you will not have this intervention. Here are my suggestions for you:

Call 911. You should call 911or the military police in the case of any emergency or threat. You have to call for help immediately!

Call a Victims Advocate. You should see a Victims Advocate (VA) at your nearest military installation. They will enhance your personal safety; provide support, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and safety planning, orders of protection, liaison between you and your husband’s unit and other resources, legal/medical/investigative accompaniment, etc. The VA is usually located in the family services on base. For example, a Fleet and Family Service, Social Work Service, or Army Community Service.

Seek Therapy. I would highly recommend that you seek the help of a therapist for many reasons. A therapist would be very supportive and provide insight and education to help you understand domestic violence and the cycle of abuse and provide insight to make a healthy decision regarding your husband’s behavior.

Please keep in touch with me, Iris. I care what happens to you.

Sincerely,
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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