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I Kept My Abusive Marriage A Secret Because Marines Are Supposed To Be Tough
My story started the way many do, with sparkly attraction that morphed into friendship, then love. Unfortunately, my story also ended the way too many do, with holes in the walls, broken doors, and police knocking at the front door.
I met Kyle (not his real name) by accident — he smiled at me, and he had a smile that seemed to light up the room. I remember that being my first impression — a wide smile and lots of very white teeth.
We were both Marine officers, which meant he understood my work world. We worked hard and played even harder, which was all perfectly normal in the Marine Corps. To us, epic nights out often meant heavy drinking and keeping late hours at bars.
Artwork created by families participating in the art exhibit "A Window Between Worlds" is displayed at the Desert Sanctuary courtyard during their open house event held in Barstow, Calif., Oct. 5.Laurie Pearson
Soon after we started dating, Kyle was packing bags to head overseas again, and we had to make quick decisions about what we were to one another. Moving in together, getting married, and spending as much time together as the Marine Corps allowed wove the tapestry of our early relationship, and we were at once both wild and wildly happy. We were close, and that closeness allowed me to ignore certain things.
First came the red flags that I ignored because I had all the same problems. Kyle drank in binge fashion, early and often. He was reckless and took risks at any opportunity, always up for some untried, new experience. Most of the time, I was right there with him.
Then there were the flags that I somehow chose to ignore and excuse because I was blindly smitten. Kyle would mix prescription pain medication with alcohol, or go out late and head to work without sleeping at all.
I stayed very good at keeping up appearances. When one of his angry outbursts left a foot-sized hole in our wall, I moved furniture and arranged pictures to cover the damage. When family and friends came to visit, I had clever explanations for why the doors in our house were off the hinges. Loud yelling became shoves into walls or furniture. Drinking became constant and darker.
Our fashionable apartment and put-together life started coming apart, and my self-denial got harder to keep up. One sunny afternoon, he dragged me across the living room floor by my hair and threw me out the front door. I remember being glad that our industrial-style concrete floors were smooth and polished — at least I slid easily.
The neighbors who called the police never asked me any questions, and I never offered them anything but averted eyes. I couldn’t tell anyone about it, even as forgiving and forgetting each incident was getting harder and harder to do. I was all alone at this point by choice.
I’m a freaking Amazon. These things don’t happen in my world, I thought to myself.
Domestic violence exists in the military and there are helping agencies available to raise awareness and provide assistance.U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Sr. Airman Katrina Brisbin.
I’m an academic now, and I can intellectualize the heck out of how things happened the way they did. I can tell you all about how one’s surrounding social norms play a vital role in shaping the attitudes and beliefs commonly used to delineate and define culture, and my culture was one of independence and infallibility. Only the weak had problems, and my husband and I couldn’t be weak.
I’ve got this.
I was afraid in my own home, but I would never have labeled myself a victim of anything. I had no idea yet that I needed help, and wouldn’t have known how to accept it if someone had offered.
I wasn’t rare or special in my attitude — women in the military are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to geographical isolation from family and friends, and the potential for social isolation within military culture in general. Evidence shows that violence against women is a pervasive problem within the military-connected community, and it is an extremely relevant issue for active-duty servicewomen. Among the branches, the Army consistently has shown the highest rates of domestic violence, followed by the Marines, Navy, and Air Force. In one study of active-duty military women, 21% of the women surveyed reported being on the receiving end of domestic violence incidents. VA studies show even higher reported numbers of 36.6%.
It wasn’t until one of Kyle’s particularly scary benders left me alone in our apartment, searching for places to hide our ammunition that I realized something had to change. He was mixing alcohol with Valium at the time, and I could barely understand his speech. He had become paranoid, obsessively checking my whereabouts, phone records, and e-mail inbox.
I had no idea where he had gone that night, but I knew he always came back drunk. I searched for places to secret away rounds so that even if he went for one of our weapons when he came home, he wouldn’t have anything to fire them with. I knew he needed help, and a tiny doubt began to creep into my mind about whether I was ever going to be able to get him to seek it before something bad happened to me.
Participants were given the chance to write messages as supporters or survivors of rape or abuse on pieces that will be stitched onto the Monument Quilt during National Night Out August 2, 2016 at Fort George G. Meade, Md.U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes
It was the first time I considered leaving, knowing I might be leaving him drowning. Without even really knowing if I wanted to, I filed divorce papers and packed the car. I left everything material I owned at our former home with him and drove off, a completely broken version of myself.
Still not talking to anyone.
Still not naming the problem.
With geography and marital dissolution papers between us, it still took a me a long time to think back on things with enough clarity to learn a few things. Some volunteer work with a veterans’ service organization brought me into contact with shoulders I felt like I could lean on. When I finally did share it with one sister veteran, and then another, I heard this kindest of phrases: “Me, too.”
At the time, it was such a wonderful feeling to hear that absolutely nothing about my experience was rare or special. Now I worry that we’re not speaking about this within our community as the widespread problem it actually is.
Let’s talk about it now.
Servicewomen and veterans experiencing intimate partner violence should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.