Tamara Campbell Won't Stop Advocating for Survivors of Domestic Violence

A pledge is displayed during a Change the Culture program.
A pledge is displayed during a Change the Culture program, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Oct. 4, 2018. “Change the Culture” supports Department of Defense’s sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, discrimination and hazing training programs by encouraging the elimination of destructive behaviors and promoting positive actions. (Cpl. Matthew Kirk/U.S. Marine Corps)

Less than a year after a Marine Corps general decided that Tamara Campbell's ex-husband could be released on probation instead of serving the full 11-year sentence imposed on him for numerous charges -- including domestic violence against her -- she is gearing up for another hearing that will determine if he has violated the terms of that probation.

"It's never-ending," Campbell said. "And it's always going to be somebody else's decision."

Campbell's ex-husband was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2015 and pleaded guilty to seven charges, including strangulation, shoving a loaded gun in Campbell's mouth and adultery. He was released on probation from federal prison March 15 and returned home to Indiana.

Campbell's efforts to stop her husband's release were detailed in a March 10 story in The Free Lance--Star.

Early last month, Campbell said, her ex was accused of attacking his new fiancee's ex-husband and, a few days later, of strangling the fiancee.

Campbell knows this because the fiancee reached out to her.

"She messaged me and said, 'I think I need your help,'" Campbell said. "I got some flak from people for helping her, but I can't not help her--she's a victim. She doesn't know what to do."

Indiana court records show that Campbell's ex was charged on Dec. 4 with battery, a misdemeanor, and on Dec. 12 with felony strangulation and domestic battery committed in the presence of a child.

He was committed to Marion County Jail on Dec. 13. The warrant for his arrest was issued by the U.S. Parole Commission, which will hold a hearing to determine whether he should serve the rest of his original sentence plus additional time, Campbell said.

She said she still blames the Marine Corps for not holding her ex to full accountability for his actions.

"I am now more angered and driven because there are so many other women who are going through what I went through," she said. "I hear women tell me time and time again that their case was handled just like mine was [by the Marine Corps]. [Mine] was not a one-in-a-million situation. This is how [the Marine Corps] handles domestic violence and this is not OK."

Earlier this year, Campbell and her fiance faced eviction from their home in Spotsylvania. Campbell and her three children moved back to Indiana to live with a friend.

She said being in the same state as her ex was terrifying, and it soon became apparent that he knew they were there.

She quit a job at a restaurant after her ex's brother showed up there asking to see her.

On another occasion, she said, she was driving to visit a friend and noticed that her ex was driving the car behind her.

She turned onto a series of back roads trying to lose him, and called the friend she was visiting to ask if she had a weapon at her house.

After that, Campbell felt she needed to leave the state. Because she was fleeing an abusive ex, Empowerhouse, the Fredericksburg area organization supporting survivors of domestic violence, was able to provide her family with financial assistance to leave Indiana and find a place to rent locally.

Campbell and her children returned to Virginia in June. She and her fiance, a professional chef, are both working, and as they become more financially secure, they are starting to form a five-year plan to open their own shelter for survivors of domestic violence.

"We want to open a shelter that doesn't feel like a shelter," she said. "A lot of women don't like going to the shelter because they say they don't want to put their kids through that. And that was me, too, as crazy as that sounds."

In the new year, Campbell plans to start volunteering with Empowerhouse as an advocate. She also wants to work with local legislators to introduce laws ensuring that the legal system protects survivors of domestic violence and holds their abusers accountable.

She said she isn't done with the Marine Corps, either.

"I want to file [a lawsuit] against the Marine Corps," she said. "The fact that military women are still reaching out to me begging for help because they're not getting it--that tells me they're still doing this. They're still not helping victims. So I'm not going to stop. I'm just going to keep going. Until they change something."

After her story was published in the Free Lance--Star, women started reaching out to Campbell to share their stories -- to thank her for speaking out or ask her for help.

HuffPost recently published a story about Campbell as part of a series of stories about domestic violence in the military. More women have reached out to her as a result of that story.

Campbell responds to all of them.

"I've had some friends say I shouldn't be responding, because I don't know what their intentions are," she said. "But if they're victims, I do respond.

"I still have a lot to do," Campbell continued. "I want to be the voice of military spouses." 

This article is written by Adele Uphaus–Conner from The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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