Dear Ms. Vicki,
I'm sure you're inundated with emails and that you've heard it all before, but I really need some advice from someone who understands the military.
My husband (a chaplain) has been emotionally, financially, verbally, sexually, psychologically and physically abusing me since we got married. He was also doing it while we were dating, but at least he was apologizing then as he was seeing a therapist back then who actually challenged him.
I finally requested help from another chaplain after an incident late one night when my husband tried to force me and my teenage daughter out of the car in the middle of a country road. Then he attempted to lock my daughter and me out of our home, setting off the burglar alarm and then demanding that the police make me and my children leave our own home! The police didn't, of course.
This was all because he had bought an inappropriate Halloween costume for my daughter, even though he had agreed not to buy it, and then got mad when I confronted him about it.
My husband actually got even worse after I requested help, but I finally felt a little bit protected as the other chaplain reported it to my husband's chain of command and they made him get counseling and a medical exam.
However, he continued to verbally abuse me via text message and face-to-face and he continued to emotionally abuse me. Yes, I have ALL the proof. He took my car without my knowledge and traded it in for a second one for himself that he refused to let me drive and he refused to take me to work. He wouldn't buy me or my children food. I was working but not making much money because he manipulated me months earlier into accepting a lower-paying position, saying that if I didn't, "we were done."
Finally, in December we had an incident where he was choking me (he called it "play choking") and I got a Military Protective Order against him. That should have been a good thing, but it wasn't.
He posted photos of me on Facebook and I started getting calls from some escort service, odd friend requests on Facebook and other things -- more abuse in other forms.
Worst of all, he made some report or something to Family Advocacy Program (FAP) unbeknownst to me and they never contacted me to give my side. I didn't even know about it. Instead, they held a CRC (Case Review Committee) meeting and determined that HE was emotionally abused by me! I didn't know about any of this until he tried to submit a document from the CRC in divorce court. Fortunately, the judge called it hearsay and wouldn't accept it. Nevertheless, I discovered later that this report has been documented in Army Central Registry, calling me an abuser!
The case manager at FAP was so rude to me when I called, not even knowing me or caring that a protective order had already been issued against him, ordered by his command. I sent a letter requesting a reconsideration, but the hospital medical director denied it, even though I met all the criteria for the reconsideration.
Now I am going to lose my job when they run my yearly background screening. I seriously am scared and don't know what to do. I feel like just crawling in a hole and staying there forever, but I have two children who I have to care for alone. I seriously do not want to go on, but I can't not go on because of the children.
Please help. I still don't even know what he alleged that I did. All I ever wanted to do was save our marriage.
Sincerely, Abused By My Chaplain Husband
I'm so sorry to hear about all of this. It really sounds like a bad nightmare, and I'm so happy you were able to escape.
Your first responsibility is to protect your children. I hope you and your children are safe. I don't blame you for what happened to you and your children, but your letter has many lessons for both men and women -- especially for military spouses.
First, if you are dating an abuser, the abuse won't stop if you marry him or her. To the contrary, it will get worse, just as it did in your marriage. I used to work for the Family Advocacy Program, so I am familiar with it. FAP handles all domestic violence to include spousal, child and elderly abuse.
When I worked there, you couldn't force a family member to participate or accept services, but a family member spouse was contacted when an allegation was made. I don't understand why no one contacted you for input. It is important to note that, as you said, if they find you guilty of abuse, the finding will be in the Central Registry and that can affect employment.
Because of this, I will offer you some advice: First, you need to go to the FAP on post and ask to speak to the FAP manager. You can explain that you were not apprised of the meeting that occurred with your husband and you were misrepresented as the abuser when, in fact, he is the abuser. The FAP manager might be willing to give you information about filing an appeal. You can also contact the Central Registry for more information.
What you can't do right now is nothing because this report will be on your background and can affect your future for years to come.
We know what your husband did. He flipped the script and turned everything around on you. He also knew what to do to keep you from coming to the FAP meeting. He didn't want them to hear your side of the story.
This brings me to my next point: No one should suffer in silence about abuse. Domestic violence hurts everyone. I'm sure you and your children were traumatized by everything you experienced. For this reason, I highly recommend therapy for you and your children. You all need support and guidance from a professional therapist who can help you bond and start the healing process.
If your divorce is not final yet, you should contact Ex-Partners of Servicemembers for Equality (EXPOSE) at their website or call 703-941-5844. They will help you find a lawyer that specializes in military divorces and they can also provide other resources and support.
Please keep in touch with me. Thank you for taking the time to read the column and to write me.
-- Ms. Vicki