Help Change the Silent Epidemic of Domestic Violence in the Military
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I ask anyone that can understand the severity that domestic violence victims and their children suffer to please sign this petition. In doing so, I am hoping that this will help me to get the superior court Judge to reconsider his decision of giving the children’s father full custody and move away order.
After years of me trying to leave, I was relieved to start proceedings in April of 2015 finally. When the divorce papers were initially filed, we agreed that I would retain full physical custody and we would share legal custody of our two younger children ages four and five. As a woman who has been diagnosed with battered women’s syndrome, I was satisfied with this agreement. I concluded that this would dissolve our marriage and free my children and me with the least amount of anguish in a speedy manner. So, I chose to accept his offer versus exposing the domestic violence we endured. In October of 2015, he petitioned for full custody. In doing so, he began his cycle of violence again. My spouse used our dysfunctional family dynamics to achieve his personal agenda of alienating me and smearing my reputation. He proceeded to obtain decelerations from my family members whom I am estranged from and others to write slanderous false allegations against myself. As a result, he was able to convince the judge that he should be granted temporary full and legal custody. Meanwhile, I retained full custody of my other children from previous relationships.
The simplicity of this divorce had now taken a turn for the worst. For fear of putting my children and me at further risk of abuse, I was forced to expose the domestic violence history now. Let me start with 30 allegations of spousal and child abuse with the younger children’s father as the perpetrator since 2009. Of the 30 allegations, of which 14 of them were appointed a Treatment Manager to be reviewed, which a majority of these were found to have met-criteria for abuse. There is additional history from his prior marriage where the same abuse was documented and found to have met-criteria and provided to the judge. As a victim of domestic violence, I sought guidance through VAFB Family Advocacy in 2012 and was assigned a Domestic Violent Advocate to assist me up until the present time.
I provided documentation to the courts of the history of domestic violence, and the courts will not acknowledge the documentation. The documentation I have submitted supports the fear that I have for my children and me regarding our safety. In March 2015, death threats to my life spoken by my spouse to his coworkers resulted in his coworkers reporting these threats to his command. His command then placed a military protective order protecting myself against him which continues to be in place. I was denied, by his leadership after multiple attempts, to obtain a copy of the military protective order so that I can get a civilian restraining order. In my efforts to get this document, I then reached out to our local congressman.
My efforts to get assistants from the military to provide documentation to the courts have been ignored, except that of a Family Advocacy Treatment Manager at VAFB. The Treatment Manager has testified in the court of all the met-criteria documented abuse. As a result, my husband filed an Inspector General (IG) complaint and Command Directed Investigation against the Treatment Manager claiming that he purged himself while testifying in my divorce/custody hearing. This IG investigation activated by my spouse was a blatant attempt to keep me from services from Family Advocacy, reduce my support group by alienating me, trying to stop me from speaking out, and an attempt to silence the Treatment Manager with intimidation. My husband went as far as to testify in court under oath that the Family Advocacy Treatment Manager would be fired for his testimony. This investigation did not result in perjury. After this investigation was unfounded, he then proceeded to harass and stalk the Treatment Manager and his family. This harassment has influenced the Treatment Manager to pursue a restraining order. Also, my former domestic violent advocate from 2009 was issued by his command a military protective order against my husband for similar behavior.
To further provoke this situation, my husband has worn his military uniform throughout the divorce proceedings which he uses as a statement to claim military male privilege. This is a false representation of the military uniform and against UCMJ (The Uniform Code of Military Justice) and AFI (Air Force Instruction) codes. This wearing of the military uniform is used as an attempt to persuade the judge by gaining favor versus a basic civilian domestic court proceeding. Domestic Violence in the military is handled vastly different to that of the civilian world. I have personally experienced all of the different types of abuse including that which is illustrated in the military power and control wheel. The various types of abuse include; using coercion and threats, intimidation, isolation, using children, using economic abuse, claiming military/male privilege, minimizing, denying, blaming, and the use of emotional abuse (National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, 2016).
Domestic violence is a massive epidemic when it comes to the military and the lack of follow through to protect the victims and punish the perpetrator. While there are resources in place such as Family Advocacy and Domestic Violence Advocates, the accountability with my experience by leadership is nonexistence. Lack of support is especially hard when the victim's crossover into the civilian world to get help when military silences the victim by not responding or helping the victim and protecting the service member. We need to fight for victims to have more rights by directing military commanding officers to respond back to victims when they report such crimes and take action. There needs to be better assistance from the military when a wife leaves a domestic violence service member to get civilian help by acknowledging the abuse that has happened within the military. Members need to be held accountable for their actions that are detrimental to others regarding domestic violence to spouse and children. Domestic violence in the military is a silent epidemic that needs attention. Please sign this petition to help stop this from repeating not only for my children and I but others. In my personal experience, the domestic violence has continued for years, and the military is very aware, yet, I see no changes, thus, putting my children and me at further risk. Pretending or acting as though there is not a problem with domestic violence in the military is not helping the victims.
This is a brief summary of the horrendous almost twenty-two months of me attempting to regain custody of my younger children while being terrorized by my spouse. He has shown nothing to date that has proven to be true. In fact, all allegations and declarations he has submitted against me I have provided the court proof to discount his claims. The judge needs to reexamine the evidence that has been presented to the court to make a just ruling. If my spouse is granted a move away order and full custody I will then be forced to move near my children, therefore, isolating me from my support system. An out of state relocation would place me in a vulnerable position to start over in courts for custody and deal with ongoing abuse. I ask for sympathy and empathy towards my children and myself, as our safety continues to be a risk. Thank you for taking the time to read my story as I plead for your assistance to stop this cycle by signing this petition.
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. (2016). "Wheels" Adapted from the Power and Control Wheel Model. Retrieved from http://ncdsv.org/publications_wheel.html
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