AUGUSTA (GA) WJBF – During the month of July, we focus on the independence and freedom secured for our country by the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. But, we can’t ignore the freedoms and independence that are compromised within some, not all, military families due to domestic violence.

“I walked you down the aisle to a monster” and “The enemy infiltrated our troops” were commonly repeated by my father after I escaped my ex-husband. At the time, my son was five-weeks-old. My husband, at the time, had been arrested for brutally attacking me. A neighbor called police after hearing my cries for help. The next day, my mother and sister arrived to drive me, my son and dog to safety in our hometown of Augusta, Georgia. We each lamented telling daddy what happened. We knew the retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major was very protective of his daughters and would go into war mode if he knew either of us had been hurt. Daddy was a proud soldier. He was in the last regiment, the 24th Infantry, of the Buffalo Soldiers. So, he was fiercely loyal and a true protector. Daddy was stern. But, he was loving. I was his youngest and stood by him to no end. He did the same for me. Therefore, he could never imagine a man hurting me. For clarification, my ex-husband is a school Principal and has not served in the military. But, during our many multi-hour talks, Daddy often grimaced at the notion that domestic violence happens to anyone even in the Armed Forces. Sadly, it’s a reality for many victims.

According to the Defense Department more than 42,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported in the military population from 2015 to 2019. However, a report in May 2021 by the Government Accountability Office, the information is not collected regularly and the number of incidents is probably higher.

The report shows 74% of the cases involved physical abuse, 22% comprise emotional abuse, 4% were sexual abuse while 1% was neglect.

Last year, A CBS News investigation found that an estimated 100,000 cases of domestic violence since 2015.

To combat the issue of domestic violence, military branches have established resources to address the problem and help victims. For example, the U.S. Army has a “Family Advocacy Program (FAP)” which describes the program as being “dedicated to helping Soldiers and Families with the complex challenges related to domestic abuse, child abuse, and neglect. We focus on prevention, education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention, and treatment.”

Does this mean the problem has been solved and there are no more cases? No. However, this means there are viable programs in place to assist victims in military families. Still, many victims may feel trapped and unsure about getting the help needed from their spouses’ employer.

If so, here are a couple of resources to help victims of domestic violence:

SafeHomes Domestic Violence Center: https://www.safehomesdv.org/Contact-Us

U.S. Army: Military OneSource CONUS: +1(800) 342-9647; OCONUS: 00-800-3429-6477; To call collect with operator assistance OCONUS: 484-530-5908.