Now, I’m first going to say that this is my memory of events…and obviously there are three sides to every story. However, many times some people will misconstrue a story to meet their agenda.
This is a little long, so please bear with me.
I never really told all of the details of this Mother’s Day to others because it was just so painful. You see, once I became a mother I made sure my spouse always had a wonderful Father’s Day. Sometimes the budget was tight but the common theme was to scour the internet for free Father’s Day gifts, see if we could make anything homemade, and go from there. One year I was actually able to help my son write an essay that got his father recognized by a MLB baseball team for Father’s Day.
My marriage was already rocky by this point. I was being accused of affairs, yet proof showed that he had multiple mistresses (to include ones within months of me having a baby). I was being accused of alienating his family: they were accusing me of kicking him off of social media, controlling his finances, etc. I gave up everything to raise my babies and I trusted we were in great hands. I had just gotten a job with excellent promotion potential and in just a couple of short weeks I was going to graduate with my Master’s Degree. I was a mother of four at this point. Not even six months prior I was convinced to put a new, over the top, insanely expensive truck under my credit & my name because he NEEDED it. I tried reasoning with used vehicles. I tried explaining how it just wasn’t feasible. But, in the end he knew if he promised to be an amazing loving husband I’d cave. And…I did. I always did. I loved the promises of love. I loved feeling that one day someone was truly going to feel like I was their equal…that I was the woman they were meant to be with.
So, Mother’s Day comes around & we had talked about it. One of our most common things was to let the other parent sleep in and not have to do diaper changes or breakfast for the kids. His mother was visiting and I assumed he’d do something special for both of us. It was so odd to me to wake up with the kids and look over and he wasn’t even phased by their yelling. Just the day prior we had discussed going to my church (he only went when I begged him to join me…even after claiming he was a “preacher”) for Mother’s Day. I knew that even if he forgot about Mother’s Day I’d be surrounded by others and feel their love & that would be enough for me…plus many churches give mothers a flower or just recognize what we do for the world, not just our own families. So, imagine my surprise when I asked him to help me get the kids ready for church & he said, “no…if you want to go to church so badly YOU get them ready.” Well, okay. I was usually the one to dress them, do their hair, etc. to go anywhere but I had hoped he’d help since there were four. I attempted to get us all ready and it just wasn’t working so I gave up that fight. We were going to be late and I didn’t want to ruin someone else’s Mother’s Day.
I was exhausted. I was just tired of being in such a miserable relationship. I loved to run or exercise when I felt down so, I got myself dressed to go for a run and I asked his mom if she could handle the kids so I could just go for a run to clear my head. I came back and was yelled at for going for a run and leaving his mom with the kids. Yes, yelled at. Like a child. Now…this was the last day to submit my final two final papers and quizzes for my Master’s Degree. I was almost done! But, with all of this insanity I couldn’t focus. He ended up leaving the house with the kids and came back quickly afterwards with a bag of crap from Target. Like, I’m talking about going into the craft section of the store & having the kids pick out paint colors & random wood letters. He then gave me the Target bag, receipt and all, and said Happy Mother’s Day. Let me remind you, his mother was still visiting. She packed up quickly and ended up leaving shortly afterwards. I was actually surprised she didn’t try to defend him. No, she waited until after the divorce to throw me under the bus as the one who drove her son mad.
I lost my mind. I got upset. I felt like the sacrifices & choices I made for our family were never enough. I had to work on my paper so I told him I was checking into a hotel and working on my assignments. So, I barely packed a bag and I left.
To say my phone blew up was an understatement. It was going off so much I turned it off. Fake claims of emergencies to where I had to come home. Claims that I was abandoning the family and I was a worthless human being. Claims that I had another man in the hotel room. Claims that he had always planned to get a craft for me to do with the kids for mother’s day.
So. Much. Harassment. To the point where I turned off my phone and got to working on my assignments. I was able to complete my assignments within seconds of the 12am deadline. I was ecstatic. Could I celebrate with anyone? Nope. My friends were asleep. (He had already told me we couldn’t afford for me to go to Commencement so I never even got to walk. I just quietly graduated with my degree and that was it.)
I sent a message, once I turned my phone back on and saw the 50+ missed calls, that just asked what time he needed me the next morning. I got a reply around 0530 stating that I “should know” …well, sometimes his schedule changed so I came home in time to help get the kids ready for school as I had my own work to go to in the morning. I walked in the door and he immediately tried to leave. I asked him to do the daycare run…nope. I asked him to handle the bus kids…nope. He wanted me to do it all. I got upset. I yelled. I told him how worthless I felt and how disrespectful he was to me and just didn’t even acknowledge everything I did for us. For them. For him.
He grabbed my arm and pulled me close, to yell in my face as he so often did (and yes, even spit), and yelled at me how he was going to take everything from me. When the police showed up he tried to claim that he was trying to grab our son, who was in my right arm as he grabbed my left, because he felt our son was in danger. This was also his excuse when he tried to strangle me years prior…he was really grabbing our daughter because he thought she was in danger.
(After the strangling incident he actually claimed to have gone to the base hospital to get help & he got mad at how they treated him so he stormed off. To say I felt defeated after that was an understatement. During this time he also removed me from our checking account, so, as a stay at home mother, I had nothing.)
By this point all I wanted was to be amicable for the kids. I loved them and I knew they deserved better. So many times I had tried to go to counseling or just divorce and he always said “if I can’t have you, no one can” or…”it starts and ends with you.” Before I went to years of counseling I thought those statements always meant he’d come back around for our family. But, sadly, he didn’t. It was easier to start new. To start fresh. With a clean slate and *hopefully* try to not be that ugly man ever again.
There were multiple incidents and the same police kept showing up after an investigation every incident was considered “substantiated physical and emotional abuse” inflicted on me by the military.
Does that mean he got misdemeanor or felony charges? No.
Does this mean any UCMJ action? Also no.
Does this mean supervised visitation with children? Not automatically. Most of the time it’s not enough because the kids “weren’t” abused…even if they witnessed the abuse. Oddly enough, in the state it occurred in the fact that our kids DID witness the abuse it WAS considered a misdemeanor.
But we were on FEDERAL soil when it happened. Military Housing.
So, what does this mean?
Well, it means a FORM. Yes, a little typed up memorandum, goes into his MEDICAL record for the military and that’s it. The spouse is left trying to figure out how to live somewhere else if they lived on base. The spouse is left to try and figure out a life away from the military. Some spouses are given funds through Family Advocacy to move, but they’re rarely approved. I had employment and leaving him wasn’t considered dire for me (after he threatened to kill me during another incident). Meanwhile, these abusers are almost always quietly retired to not tarnish their reputation. They are given a new lease on life. Many are ushered out under some odd medical condition that can be claimed…if they’re close enough to 20 years they do normal retirements.
Did my veteran status matter? No.
Did anyone advocate for me? Nope. Even the victim advocates have their hands full with so many cases they forgot who they were talking to!
Could he still carry a gun? Yes. 100%.
Could he apply for ANY job out there, even Law Enforcement? Also Yes.
Did we get free therapy? Yes. Thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and their team of therapists my kids and I were able to meet with a woman who helped us handle the divorce and abuse as a family.
Did he ever show up or participate? No. He was never broken.
So, Mother’s Day that year taught me that it didn’t matter what my service member spouse did to me, his service mattered more than mine. More than my kids. More than our lives.
For Mother’s Day this year I want you to think about those mothers who have gone through the “Family Advocacy Program” through the military and their “support” of families. I have TWO memorandums stating I went through substantiated spousal abuse. Help change this program. These abusers need to actually face their choices. Federal laws saved my abuser from facing charges. I was informed that I pretty much had to be near death for him to be charged federally.
Help make it matter. End the cycle. Change the system.