October isn’t just about pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters; it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And, we need to talk about it, especially in our military community.
The Military Life: It’s Not All Camo and Homecomings
We know the drill (pun intended). Deployments, PCS moves, the late-night calls, and the unpredictability of military life. But amidst all the challenges, there’s one that’s often whispered about but rarely shouted – domestic violence. And, let’s not forget its sneaky cousin, financial abuse in the military.
The Hidden World of Housing Allowances
Now, here’s a scenario that’s more common than you’d think and hits right at the heart of financial abuse within military families. Some service members marry and, instead of building a home together, they keep their spouse in the dark about the housing allowance they receive because of their marital status. Yep, that’s right. They get an allowance specifically because they’re married, but instead of using it for joint housing, they pocket it or spend it elsewhere, leaving their spouse out in the cold, both figuratively and sometimes literally.
Imagine being married but living separately, not by choice, but because your service member spouse has kept you in the dark about funds meant to provide for your shared living. It’s a betrayal that goes beyond finances; it’s a breach of trust, commitment, and the very vows of marriage.
Spotting the Signs
Physical Abuse: We’ve all seen the movies, but real life isn’t always so obvious. It’s not just bruises; it’s the flinches, the downcast eyes, the “I’m just clumsy” excuses.
Emotional Abuse: Ever heard someone’s partner belittle them? Or seen a friend’s light dim because of constant criticism? That’s emotional abuse, and it’s as real as it gets.
Sexual Abuse: No means no. Period. And force isn’t just physical; it’s also emotional and psychological.
Financial Abuse: This one hits different in the military world. With one partner often away, it’s easy for the other to take control. But there’s a difference between managing finances and manipulating them.
Real Talk: Financial Abuse in Our Military World
- The “Allowance” Game: If you’re given an “allowance” while your partner controls the rest, that’s not partnership; that’s control.
- Job Sabotage: Being forced to quit or being prevented from working? That’s not support; that’s sabotage.
- Hidden Assets: If you’re in the dark about bank accounts or investments, it’s time to bring it to light.
- Debt Drama: Taking out loans or credit cards without your knowledge? That’s not just bad finance; that’s betrayal.
- Credit Games: Being forced into bad checks or late payments? That’s not forgetfulness; that’s manipulation.
Military spouses facing domestic or financial abuse have several avenues for support and reporting. If there’s immediate danger or a threat, calling 911 should always be the first step to ensure safety. Beyond that, every military installation is equipped with a Family Advocacy Program (FAP). FAP is dedicated to assisting military families confronted with domestic violence, offering services ranging from prevention programs and crisis intervention to safety planning, counseling, and shelter referrals. Additionally, Military OneSource is a confidential 24/7 service tailored to the unique challenges of military life, providing counseling and resources. They can be contacted at 1-800-342-9647. For immediate support, spouses can also turn to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a civilian resource, at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). It’s essential to know that help is available, and no one needs to face these challenges alone.
Military Resources for Victims of Abuse
Check out these resources from Military One Source:
• United Against Domestic Abuse
• Family Advocacy Program
• Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator
• Military Leaders Healthy Relationship Toolkit
• Service provider toolkit
• National Domestic Violence Hotline
How to Help Fellow Military Spouses
- Listen with Love: If someone trusts you enough to share, be there. No judgment, just love.
- Push for Professional Help: We’ve got resources, ladies. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is just a call away at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).
- Stay in the Know: Our military community has resources like the Family Advocacy Programs. Let’s use them.
- Safety First, Always: If you feel someone’s in danger, act. Call 911 or local law enforcement.
- Secrets are Safe: Respect privacy. If someone confides in you, lock it up.
- Tell them about :Traditional Compensation for Abused Military Spouses.Transitional Compensation offers financial assistance and benefits to eligible victims, ensuring they have the means to transition to a safer environment. Click here to learn more about it.
We’ve got each other’s backs through deployments, moves, and every challenge this military life throws at us. Let’s make sure we’re there for the silent battles too. Everyone deserves love, respect, and safety. If you or someone you know is facing this battle, reach out. We’re here, and we’re listening.
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