By Kerstin Lopez (Fort Carson)October 6, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Have you ever felt isolated, unworthy, frightened or trapped in a relationship? I have, and it's a scary scenario to be in, but I can tell you that you are not alone and you can end the vicious cycle of abuse.
Ten years ago, when I was a Soldier in the Army, I fell in love with a fellow Soldier. When we married, I thought it was the beginning of my "happily ever after," but things quickly changed for the worse.
Maybe it was the naiveté of only being 19; or the idea that no one else would want me; or the insecurity of not wanting to be alone in life; or the idea of a failed marriage that kept me in the abusive relationship so long.
I always thought of myself as a strong and independent person before meeting him, but he slowly stripped me of my confidence and self-worth.
The abuse began with little gestures, such as not allowing me to go out with friends unless he was there, monitoring my email account, questioning me about phone calls and co-workers and then it escalated into name-calling after a few months.
I quickly realized it was better to just let him have his way, and I slowly drifted away from all my friends and family -- I felt so alone. His tactic of isolation worked.
When I had the courage to stand up for myself -- which wasn't often -- he would get violent. It started with punching an inanimate object such as a door or wall, then he took out his anger on our pets. Eventually his frustrations were aimed at me.
I endured physical, sexual and verbal abuse from the man that was supposed to be my best friend and protector, but turned out to be the person I was most afraid of.
It was no way to live.
One evening, after locking myself in a bathroom to avoid another "punishment," he busted down the door, threw me with all his force into the tub and attacked me with a knife.
That was the last straw.
I was fully aware I had only two choices -- stay and someday end up dead or leave
Fortunately, I found refuge with a chaplain who walked me through developing a safety and escape plan. The chaplain, along with my chain of command, saved me from a life of misery.
I was lucky to have someone I could trust to help me. There are plenty of people on the installation who are here to help if you find yourself in a situation similar to the one I was in many years ago.
Fort Carson's Army Community Service Soldier and Family Readiness Program offers a variety of services for those dealing with domestic violence. The Victim Advocacy Program educates victims of their rights, locates safe havens, assists with emergency food and finances and provides legal advocacy. The Family Advocacy Program also has unit education and training to bring awareness to Soldiers about domestic violence and how to deal with it.
I encourage you to reach out for help if you think you might be the victim of domestic violence. If you suspect someone is the victim of abuse, don't hesitate to notify the military police.
It's in your hands to end the vicious cycle.