Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Yes, I know I've been somewhat off the grid for a while-since getting to my new unit. Allow me to tell you that it's not for any nefarious purposes-I simply have been pretty busy.

My new unit is allowing me a lot more time to actually slow down and take care of myself. Why is this important? Well, as an NCO you get filled with a lot of "take care of your soldiers first" mentality. It's a really good thing-it helps get your joes taken care of and contributes to the effective functioning of the unit. But it only works when the leadership above you also does the same thing. If everyone in the Army did what they were supposed to, and took care of their people, the entire thing would work like a charm. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

I've been started in something called CPT for my PTSD. Supposedly, it has a high rate of success in reducing the severity of the problem, which would be great. I'm going in with an open mind, and I'll report back to you on how it goes. Unfortunately, it involves something which I believe is known as "exposure therapy", which requires you to reexperience the trauma, a lot, to desensitize you and somehow heal you. I'm not quite sure how it works, but I'm told it will probably make the PTSD worse for a while before it makes it better. This isn't exactly good news for me, because I'm not sure how much worse the woman who's running it is talking about. I've seen some pretty severe PTSD cases, and I hope it doesn't get that bad. The up side, though, is I'm told that once the PTSD gets worked on, a lot of the depression that tends to go along with it will also lift, and it will make me both a more productive and a happier soldier. We'll see.

I'm also trying to do more in the way of education-both my own and of others. For those of you who were unaware, I was a victim of domestic violence while in the military. Which is one of the few trainings the military doesn't do-what it is, and how to recognize it and get help for it. They're starting to, now-I notice a few commercials on AFN about seeking help from Family Advocacy. But at the time I had my problem, domestic violence really wasn't understood very well by leadership, and they blew it off because I didn't fit the profile of the stereotypical battered wife as they understand it.

So I'm going to put out here a few things for leaders and soldiers that may help you recognize some of the signs of domestic abuse that aren't as obvious as bruises on the face:

1) Sudden changes of clothing and/or makeup. Domestic violence is about control-some signs can be that the woman 'gets in trouble' for 'looking too pretty'. If clothing and makeup suddenly become more conservative after a relationship, it could be a warning sign.

2) Sudden changes of friends and associates. Again, domestic violence is a function of control. One of the first major things an abusive partner does is help to cut the victim off from people who could potentially point out a problem or help provide support. This way, when the person is ready to run, they don't have a lot of support to do so. If you see someone systematically cutting off all of their friends, and not seeming too happy about it, it may be something to note.

3) Cutting off from the Army Family. The Army Family, dysfunctional as it may be, offers both a lot of support and a lot of watchful eyes. If you have someone who was formerly very engaged in unit activities who suddenly stops attending after a new relationship or after talking about problems in an existing relationship, it's another potential sign of domestic trouble.

4) Giving up possessions, pets, or things the person formerly used to enjoy, while mentioning that the new partner doesn't like them.

Those obviously aren't complete, and aren't sure signs, but it's my attempt to help show what to be aware of.


Davy said...

As a former NCO I know how easy it is to run yourself ragged, One thing I learned was its good to guide the joes and let them fix there own problems as long as they know your there for them, (unless its far too serious), it develops a sense of responsibility and initiative in them. (you probably know that though).

And it sounds bad but when I was in the Marines I never gave a damn about issues usually relating to women (such as domestic assault) we never thought about it because there were no women around, but when I got in the Army and was in charge of and worked with female soldiers I started to notice the uniqueness of problems they face and how the command didnt help much, and Im sure there are certain people in command who will read this. Posts like these are a great service to soldiers.

JuniorAG said...

Back when PLDC was in Augsburg (sp?) , Germany, there was an Instructor named Belamy who said when you hit your spouse, you're really hitting yourself. Guy was one of those fountains of knowledge when it comes to human behavior & I've tried to apply much of what I learned from him in my own life.

Have to say if I was dumb enough to hit the Missus, would get a cap busted in my azz, she don't play... If I tried to take away her pets, she'd probably rig up a flame thrower & torch me with it!

Army Sergeant said...

Davy: Yeah. I don't think it's deliberate, but there's just not a lot of knowledge out there. It's one reason why I'm trying to be open about my own experience-to show that it's not only okay to talk about it, but it actually helps other soldiers to do so.

JuniorAG: That is a really good piece of wisdom, definitely. The other thing that I would say is that sometimes people just don't know it's wrong, because they learned it in their own family. I really think it's important to do more education. They're moving in the right direction with family advovacy commercials, but we just need to go a little farther, I think.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.