“Isolation” isn’t part of “I love you”
By Sukanya Surette, USAG Yongsan-Casey Domestic Abuse Victim AdvocateOctober 7, 2020
One might think someone who once stood tall, having served his country [as military and civilian] might have a comfortable retirement. Living abroad could have advantages, travel and exotic friends and places could be in cue. I’d like to shed light on some potential disadvantages.Retired on federal salary, comfortable with commissary and exchange benefits doesn’t sound bad, except, what about restrained to a wheelchair, locked-in at home daily and forced to change his own diapers – abuse and isolation this is just one scenario. Abuse takes many forms.I’m a victim’s advocate. It’s my pleasure to help victims of domestic violence. Signs of abuse include bruises, welts, broken bones, broken eyeglasses and signs of being punished, along with the caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors. One also has to look out for signs of mental mistreatment or emotional abuse and signs of neglect.My client got help because he had the courage to scribe a note, pass the small piece of paper to a customer walking by at the commissary one day. Not everyone is that courageous!7640“Help me please,” he said.The customer called the Military Police. The rest of the story is all good news.The cry for help allowed the social worker and I to call family in the U.S., and for the Family Advocacy Program Manager (FAPM) to secure a safe place for the him to stay, until he could return to his family.It was a sad and beautiful moment for us all. Tears of joy and grief marking the end of a horrible experience. No one like to say the word “abuse.” That was abuse. That was my very first experience as a victim’s advocate.Sounds like something for a Lifetime T.V. movie. That was real life.Thankfully, the U.S. Embassy helped to him secure a new passport. Thankfully, the staff made the process quicker than normal. The Army Emergency Relief Program assisted with the necessary funds so the client could return to the U.S.I’m happy to serve this community as a Domestic Abuse Victim’s Advocate. Language barriers, current health-protection measures and restrictions. It is hard, right?A client might not even have a landline or cell phone – He’s safe now and may have one, but then, he didn’t.I hope we all receive the note [the subtle “cry for help,” and do something about it. I hope we take action to call the police report it to our leadership, Chaplain or other authority.I’m available to get every victim the help they need.Editor’s note: To report a Sexual Assault call 0503-3363-5700; To report Domestic Violence contact a confidential victim advocate at: DSN: 757-8913 or 050-3357-8913. For more information about the ACS Family Advocacy Program, Domestic Violence or assistance, please call DSN 738-7505. For 2- hour assistance, please call the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate hotline, at DSN 153 or 0503-357-8913.