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Ms. Vicki: Why Would You Stay in an Abusive Relationship?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I wrote to you back in 2012. Thank for your response then, but now I’m back again. My husband joined the military back in 2012 and we moved to Fort Hood, Texas. We already had issues coming into the marriage but decided to get married anyway. Now I feel like I made the worst mistake of my life.

After we got married, I found out he was cheating on me with his sister’s friend. This went on for years. When we would go back home to visit, he would drop me and our son off and go see her. I wouldn't see him until it was time for us to leave town. Finally, I got tired of it. When he deployed, I went back home and started working. We would keep in touch, but in my heart I was done with the marriage. When he returned from deployment he begged for us to come back and said that he wanted his family back. I really hesitated to go because I was working, my son was starting pre-school and I was actually doing well for myself, but I gave in. I felt like I owed him to give it a try.

Things were okay for awhile and then everything went back downhill. I found out he was still talking to the woman he had cheated on me with and also to a new one. I wanted to leave him and go back home. I confronted him and we argued about it and then things started to get better and I thought we were back on track. We moved to Hawaii a few months ago and then I found out I was pregnant. He seemed excited and I was, too.

Lately he has been saying he doesn’t want the baby. That broke my heart! He seemed so excited at first and he called his sister and mom he told me to start buying things for the baby. Now he is constantly abusing me. Verbally, mentally, emotionally, and sometimes it even gets physical. He belittles me. He says I only bring sex to the table. That hurts! I cook, clean, wash and take care of our 5-year-old.

When my husband gets home all he has to do is eat, bathe and unwind from his day, but to him that's not good enough. He use to tell me he was okay with me being a housewife or going to school. Mind you, I have always kept a job, this has been the longest I have been without one. He constantly compares me to other wives, but they stay home, too. Now that I'm five months pregnant, he wants me to look for a job. I don't have a problem with that but he knows I want to finish school. We are still on a long waiting list for childcare for our older child and if I’m working we will need childcare for the new baby, too.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm making excuses. I’m going to school this spring semester around the same time the baby is due. I'm really thinking about moving back home, but I’m in a financial bind and with one child and now another one on the way. I don’t want to end up back at mom’s house, confined to just a bedroom.

I'm really tired and I'm at my breaking point. I don't know what to do. I tried talking to him. I've tried counseling with and without him. I feel worthless. Lately, I just try to avoid my husband as much as I can. I talk to my family about what is going on and they are supportive. They tell me to pray. I don’t even know if I can afford to leave him. How will my son and I afford a plane ticket? And, if I decide to go back home, will my husband have to help me out with expenses? Will the Army pay to ship my vehicle and clothes back from Hawaii? Thank you for taking the time to read my email.

Sincerely,
Lost Spouse

Dear Lost Spouse,

Why would you continue to stay in an abusive relationship? You are putting your life in jeopardy, as well as the lives of your unborn child and your 5-year-old son. Think about it, things could get physical between you and your husband and one of you could get injured. You have to think about that.

Please allow me to be honest because people tend to skate around pink elephants like domestic violence. People can get injured physically and possibly even killed, not to mention the emotional scarring your child could be experiencing from all of the fighting and arguing he is hearing and watching. Your children need to see you in a healthy relationship or none at all. Truth is, you are married to someone who wants his cake, ice cream and everything else at your expense. It doesn’t sound like he loves you at all. Instead, he is abusive toward you and he keeps cheating with old girlfriends and new ones.

Why would you stay in this relationship? Of course you are at a loss because you find yourself staying in the abuse for the same reason many spouses stay: finances and having nowhere else to go. You can leave this time and you shouldn’t go back.

My quick advice is for you to report this to a victim’s advocate. I’m not sure what base or military post you are near, but victim’s advocates are located in your family service section like Army Community Service. Talk to them about everything that is happening. You should tell them that you’d like to return home to be near family. Because of domestic violence, you should be relocated. They will also work with your husband’s command and legal to make sure that you have spousal and child support ordered.

Now, of course, your husband will be pissed off and he will blame you, but he’s the one to blame -- not you. You should also continue in therapy. Listen, I pray, too, but sometimes you have to get off your knees and make some decisions to change your situation. In the meantime, call 911 or the military police in the case of an emergency. I’m worried about you so let me know how you are doing.

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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