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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Programs offer support

By Pamela Jackson | | March 24, 2011

"They stay because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying. They will leave when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving,” is a quote by Rebecca J. Burns, Internet blogger, “The Last Straw.”

“We need to continuously remind our folks that domestic violence exists and we can be a part of the solution,” said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. “We need to understand how to identify the signs early on and make a difference before things get out of hand.”

According to base officials, domestic violence cases are not often brought to light because of a common fear among individuals who may not know what the future holds, but it is the lack of understanding that without intervention, domestic violence can increase in severity and frequency.

“Some of the stressors that lead to domestic violence are if individuals have trouble maintaining their decorum, controlling anger, lack of communication, impulsive behaviors or experiencing financial difficulties,” said Eric J. Ashley, director, Marine and Family Services, Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. “Some individuals tend to act out violently, which is why domestic violence is the number one killer of women, other than heart disease or other medical illnesses.”

Ashley said a lot of what his staff deals with are men who have come home and get into an argument with their spouses and for whatever reason “lay hands” on the women. It can be anything such as pushing, shoving, grabbing, pulling of hair, slapping, punching, kicking, biting and other things.

“In some cases, such as the recent event involving a Marine who allegedly shot his wife, there is alcohol involved,” he said.

Domestic abuse can be categorized as mental, economic or physical abuse. Threatening a spouse’s physical well being with a weapon or actually hurting a spouse is a form of physical abuse. In addition, name calling and verbal assault is considered mental or emotional abuse and economic abuse is the use of money and finances to control another person.

“In the past, there have been cases where a Marine has returned from a deployment and finds out his or her spouse has been unfaithful,” he said.  “This generates a problem in the relationship and repairing infidelity is a very long process.”

Both Ashley and Stephanie W. Davidson, family advocacy program manager, M&FS, agree - the two biggest issues at MCLB Albany involve incidents that arise from financial problems and alcohol.

“The bottom line is the inability to communicate what their needs are,” Davidson said. “It is easier to get angry and push the person away rather than communicate your feelings of fear. In fiscal year 2010, there were 29 total cases here at MCLB Albany, 15 of which were actual incidents of physical domestic violence; six involved emotional abuse and eight were due to neglect.”

Ashley said as a retired Marine and having worked in the domestic violence field for the past 16 years, it is a Marine’s nature to ‘stuff’ his or her feelings or keep them in.

“Service members deal with and see so much when deployed and are unable to show their true feelings or emotions. Unfortunately, what happens is they do not learn how to let them out appropriately and it usually comes out in the form of anger, frustration or aggression,” he said.

One Marine, who is currently supporting someone close to her through domestic violence, said the difficult thing to remember is it affects more than the victim and causes a lot of sleepless nights.

“In a way, it is like a rollercoaster where the person is going through the emotions of staying or leaving and trying to be strong and showing signs of doing the right thing,” said 1st Lt. Sarah L. Ray, adjutant, MCLB Albany.

“You are living the violence with them and are unable to get off the rollercoaster they are on. It is very stressful for individuals who live in a constant state of fear, often blaming themselves for what is happening and never feeling secure.”

Ray said it is difficult to remove herself from the domestic violence situation because of the appearance of not being supportive and feels she may be the last person who will ultimately get her loved one off the rollercoaster.

Base officials note the biggest problem when dealing with domestic violence is the majority of cases are not treated until they have already been blown way out of proportion. Sometimes victims feel divorce or separation is not an option, therefore, they want to do whatever is possible to keep the family together. Help is available regardless of a victim’s decision to stay or leave.

Williams noted the persons closest to the victims or the individuals committing the offense are in the best position to recognize the early warning signs.

“This is a readiness issue and it’s about good order and discipline,” he said.

Lt. Kenneth Miller, chaplain, MCLB Albany, said domestic violence is often referred to as physical violence, but emotional and psychological violence also plays a role in domestic violence.

“Many think if they do not physically attack their mate they’re good, but that is not true. I’ve seen cases where spouses have created the environment of violence through physical and emotional acts that are just as debilitating as the physical act itself,” he said. “In some cases, the environment is set just to evoke a physical response from the other mate, so we need to be careful how we define domestic violence and help people understand and get the help they need.”

According to the Web site, www.marineandfamilyservices.com, the Family Advocacy Program at MCLB Albany provides services to prevent or intervene in cases of spousal sexual assault, domestic violence and child maltreatment.

Counseling services are provided to any active- duty service member, including local recruiters and members of the National Guard.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (229) 639-5276/5252. If there is an emergency, call 911 or (229) 639-5181.