By Alexandra SheaOctober 16, 2019
Fort Jackson hosted a candlelight vigil Oct. 8 at the Main Post Chapel to raise awareness to help stop domestic violence. Pvt. 1st Class Eric Vasser, Jr., with 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, shared his story of being stabbed by his wife to help end the stigma of men speaking out about being a victim of domestic violence.
"You often meet people as a couple with different backgrounds and different ways of life," Vasser said. "Some people have dark pasts where you never know what they went through before meeting them. You start to see the different changes. You see their insecurities and the problems that they have or have had before you met them. You tend to cope with them and try to build with them."
Vasser stood tall behind the podium as he recounted what life was like for him when he first met and married his wife. Vasser said they were young at the time and had a son together prior to getting married. Their young relationship started becoming strained by his wife's insecurities and an unaccompanied tour to Korea for a year.
"Having to leave my Family to go to Korea was a challenge," Vasser said. "There were a lot of problems before I left but I didn't think it wasn't something I couldn't fix when I got back."
Once Vasser returned from Korea, he managed to make his home life easier until the night his wife stabbed him in the leg and abdomen while in their bedroom. Trapped in the locked room, Vasser's wife wielded a knife and demanded he unlock his cell phone for her. Bleeding, Vasser pleaded with his wife to drop the knife and let him go. She eventually did and he was able to escape to a neighbor's house who also happened to work for the Moncrief Army Medical Clinic.
That night Vasser was admitted to a hospital where he underwent two surgeries to repair the damages the stabbing caused him. He also knew he was a victim of domestic violence and couldn't remain quiet about it any longer.
"There was blood everywhere," Vasser said. "I had to learn how to breathe again, walk again and talk again."
Vasser explained how one in nine men are victims of domestic violence but suffer in silence because they fear the stigmas that question a man's masculinity. He hopes to decrease that number by coming forward to share his story during the vigil.
"Seventy-five percent of Americans have been in or know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. No one should have to live in fear of domestic abuse," said Col. John "Wes" Hankins, Fort Jackson garrison commander. "Unfortunately, too many people do suffer in silence. By working together we can make a significant impact in preventing Family violence."
Hankins, along with Vasser, called attendees to be vigilant in recognizing warning signs such as unexplained bruising and steadily becoming withdrawn from Family and friends. They also spoke to those who may be suffering from abuse and to seek help.
Resources are available across the installation and are available at all times to Soldiers, civilians and Family members. Those resources included the behavioral health clinic at Moncrief Army Medical Clinic, Army Community Services and online resources such as Army OneSource. The National Domestic Violence hotline can be reached at (800) 799-7233.
Since Vasser's divorce from his first wife, he has since married Jennifer Vasser, a close friend who helped him recover from his stabbing and legal battles. The two share a healthy relationship and lifestyle and welcomed the birth of their son four months ago. Both are also advocates of abuse awareness and Vasser said he is always available to listen and speak with those dealing with abuse.
"I couldn't be prouder," Jennifer Vasser said of her husband telling his story during the vigil. "He was very strong and confidant. I'm sure he can reach a lot of people."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. The office is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached at 751-5256. Staff can be reached 24/7 by calling (803) 429-4870.
"If you're going through it, please stop it before it gets worse," Vasser said. "It would burn me up if I knew someone became a fatality. There are ways to get through it."