Dear Ms. Vicki,
I am a scared military wife.
My husband and I have been best friends since high school. We married shortly after his deployment. Everything was magical, he was a great father and husband.
Then he got stationed in El Paso. He went to the field and when I finally moved in with him he started calling me “stupid” and “dumb.” I could never do anything right. He would corner me and yell at me. He said he wanted another kid, so we did. Then when I was pregnant he started going to the bars every night. I was always alone. It ended up that he was having an affair with the bartender.
He would sleep with me one night then the next tell me I was dirty. He emptied our bank accounts and left me and my kids homeless. We moved in with family. During this time he never supported us and spent his money gambling and buying expensive things. He got a DWI. He refused to come to his daughter’s birth, and just two hours after the C- section he told me he was only being nice to me for his parents.
A few months later he called me crying. I told him I wanted nothing to do with him. He said he did it all to push me away and the next day he tried over dosing on pills. I went back to help him. He later got a DWI. A few months later he said he got help that he loved me and wanted our family.
I moved back but when I did it was abusive. If I did anything wrong like cry, burn food or clean something wrong he would choke me and kick me. He would then say he messed up and would say he was going to kill himself. I would try and stop him but he would kick me or throw me down the stairs. One time he even held a knife to my chest. He told me if I said anything he would kill the dog or a relative, so I didn't. I was scared because I believed him. I convinced myself he was sick and persuaded him to go to marriage counseling but he would never open up or participate by doing things the counselor asked.
Things seemed to get better but then he started drinking again. He would laugh when I hurt myself and started yelling at the kids calling my son a fag and such. He started sleeping around again -- at this point it had been 15 girls. The one day my son cried and he told me to shut him up. I went to care for my son, then he kicked in the door and grabbed my son by the throat. When I removed his hand from my son he kicked me in the wall.
It was then I decided to leave the house and move to NY with family. While we were apart he saw a counselor and was put on medication, but yet when he would visit he still showed signs of aggression.
Lately I discovered that he has had 5 girlfriends since I came here when he said he wasn't drinking or cheating. He was. He keeps telling me he loves me but he can’t be with me because he is worthless. He says he does it to push us away. He tells his unit I’m a crazy wife and tells girls he is divorced.
His family says it is just the PTSD and to give it time. Some say this is my fault. Now we are getting divorced. I truly tried to get him into help, and I did my best to protect me and my family while still encouraging him and try to help him get better.
Is this my fault? Is this truly just PTSD? Am I wrong to divorce him? Am I letting him down? I love my husband so much and I don't want him to feel otherwise, but I’m also scared he will hurt us. His parents say I should allow him in our lives because he is just sick and well he loves us. His mom says we will get back together but it will never happen if I keep him from seeing me. What do I do?
-- Am I Making the Wrong Choice?
If you want to live and watch your children grow up you should never go back to him. Going back would be the wrong choice.
This man has been very abusive to you and abusive to your children, too. He could have killed you and your child that he grabbed by the throat. Think about the horror your child faced. He has kicked you, thrown you down stairs, talked to you like a dog and had multiple affairs.
And you ask if you are to blame. How is this your fault? Your thinking gives further credence that you are in an abusive marriage. You blame yourself by saying perhaps you should be a better wife and mother.
Listen, this is not your fault. He needs help and it’s up to him to get it. You and your children cannot be his punching bags. His parents are enablers, too. Since they are so understanding, tell them to live with their son and take his abuse. I bet they wouldn’t take it, and you shouldn’t either.
You have to be healthy so you can take care of your children. Don’t be silenced by his abuse. One of the first feelings women feel is embarrassment. The embarrassment keeps up in silence. For example, you’re wondering why you married him in the first place and why did you ignore early warning signs. That’s ok, and you can’t blame yourself.
Your husband probably has low self-esteem and low self-worth and he takes it out on you. He uses power and control over you to make himself feel better. Stay in New York, and don’t go back to El Paso. Don’t hide anything from your parents and family. They need to know.
If he ever assaults you again call the police. As a matter of fact, if I were you I would try to make a police report of past abuse. If you are fearful that he may attack you again, file a restraining order. Regarding the military, contact his commander or First Sgt. and let them know what has been going on. They will make your husband provide financial support to you and your children because he cannot leave you destitute.
At Fort Bliss, there are Victim’s Advocates for you to talk speak with about the abuse you have experienced. They will help you even though you are not living on post and provide support and resources. Call ACS Army Community Service and ask for a Victims Advocate. Their number is (915) 569-4227.
You are not hurting your kids by keeping them safe and keeping you safe too. Please keep in touch with me. I will be worried about you and your children.
-- Ms. Vicki