Saturday, October 15, 2016

How Not to Respond to a Victim of Abuse in the Military

My second blogging guest is Regina Vasquez, a Marine Corps Veteran. She is an advocate for Veterans and service members at Veteran Advocate and Founder & Executive Director at Fatigues Clothesline. She has been a member of One Billion Rising Veteran Empowerment Team USA and Volunteer-Womens Veterans Advocate

Regina is an artist see her work at Art by Regina Vasquez.

With gratitude for her years of service and the work she does now, I share her thoughts:

My name is Regina and I'm a Fully Disabled Marine Veteran living with symptoms of PTSD. I like to think of myself as someone of faith and within my faith I found the strength to be strong.  I am 37 years old. I have overcome obstacles that leaves others in awe and wondering how did I do it. For starters, I mentioned I am a woman of faith. God helped me through it. There were many instances I was thrown off course towards healing but I've regained myself and prayed for guidance to get myself back on that path.

Some of the instances that thrown me off of my path were people who I thought were friends. Ever heard the saying, you find out who your friends are when times get tough?  Well, I did find out and boy did it almost crush me.  

I was involved in a domestic violent relationship. My husband felt he was entitled to break me down by hitting and calling me crazy to the point it skyrocketed my symptoms of PTSD through the roof. I even checked myself into the mental ward because I was made to feel worthless. 

I had a friend, a Marine as well who I confined in about the abuse I endured. Her reaction to what I told her left me feeling confused and hurt. I explained how he called me a c*** and after I asked him multiple times to stop I felt compelled to slap his mouth out of defense. In turn he slapped me so hard across my face and nearly broke my jaw and started beating me up. I couldn't move. He irritated the service connected injuries I had to my back and neck.

What my friend told me after confiding in her I would never ever tell another veteran or non veteran friend.

“You’re a Marine, he had to defend himself. What do you expect?"

I will never forget those words. They made me doubt and question myself. After I left her house I made a promise to myself to never talk to her again. I don't ever want to talk to a person who feels it's ok for someone to beat another person no matter what kind of training we had. I may be a Marine but I do not deserve to be called a c*** or get beaten for defending myself. I understand I should have never slapped him but that never gave him the right to beat me to the point of fearing for my life.

I feel so disgusted having to talk about this. I would never ever say those words to someone. Instead I would have giving myself a hug and talk about resources to help me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How Hurtful Other's Comments Can Be to Victims of Abuse

Katharine Robinson is my first guest blogger for Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. 
Since leaving her abusive partner, she has earned a degree in English and Psychology and has written a dissertation on Domestic Abuse. She gives talks to health professionals and works with victims as an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate, helping others leave a violent relationships and create happy lives. 
Katharine lives in the UK and feels blessed to have a new supportive and understanding partner as her rock. She is also very proud of the adults her children have become. She is currently working on a book (working title: One in Four) telling the story of her struggle within the abusive relationship, her escape and journey to wholeness. She shares how the experience affected her family and her determination to become an advocate.
Here is Katharine’s experience in her own words:

It takes at least 35 times for a woman to be abused by her partner/husband before she will speak up about it. She might tell a close friend, family member or the police, following an incident where she has had no choice but to call them for her safety.
So when a woman then decides after any period of time to end an abusive and/or violent relationship/marriage the last thing that she wants to hear are negative comments. However, all too often this is exactly what a victim will hear from those least expected.
The comments that I heard as those around me became aware that I ended my marriage were such as the following;
My parents actually said, ‘why didn’t you tell us before, didn’t you think that you could trust us?’ Not completely negative, but I felt a little deflated about it because I did trust them, but I was way too scared to leave. They couldn’t understand this and still today, some 7 years on, my mum will ask why I didn’t tell them sooner. I had told them I was not happy in my marriage two years earlier but not the full account.
Many people who were friends years before the end of my marriage, stood back over the last few years. Now they are speaking to me again and have said, ‘I always knew he was a bad egg. There was something not right about him. That is why we stopped speaking with you and of course him.’ What they didn’t realise was what they had done to me at that time—they ostracize me. When I told them that the marriage was over they told me this and I felt low about it again, feeling I had made a poor judgement, I was useless and worthless for making that poor decision.
Probably the most common comment that I heard, was simply ‘why did you let him do this to you, why did you allow him to behave like this?’ as if I had stood, thought about it and had made a conscious decision to let this happen to me! I found it hard to answer because I didn’t let him do this to me. I didn’t allow him to behave this way. He chose to take control of me and use and abuse me. I didn’t once stand there and allow it.
I was asked to attend a workshop as a guest speaker and survivor. A professional who works within the public health service asked me why I had stayed with this person for as long as I did if he was that awful. Why hadn’t I just left? Again this is something that people seem to have no idea about. The effect that a perpetrator has on a victim from the beginning can be phenomenal and from my experience my ex-husband took the control of me and my life from the first day we started dating.
Some people said, ‘your poor children look at what they have been put through for all of those years!’ Those people had no idea exactly how awful I felt about what my children had heard, seen and witnessed? Still to this day, I feel horrendous guilt about what I had put them through, what they had endured at the hands of their father, believing that it was partly my doing. I know that I should have tried to protect the children more. That is easy to say but so hard to do when your life is in the hands of a perpetrator. Thankfully, my children know it was never my fault and don’t bear a grudge. However, other people’s lack of knowledge or understanding is hurtful and I wish that they would have thought a little before they spoke.
I wish that people could have said something positive, like; well at least now we can all look forward to new beginnings and positivity. Raising matters from the abusive past and about my former partner’s behaviour, made me endure the abuse for a little bit longer.