Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for. ~ Dag Hammarskjold (1905 – 1961)
Silent Nightmare – March 1987
The only people who know I have been committed to the psych ward are my estranged husband, commanding officer, executive officer, and my former division chief still stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Chief J had warned me to stay at Kirtland. She told me my husband was abusive then and wasn’t going to change. Chief J had been a close confidant. I was best friends with her baby sister, T. I had shared the dark side of my marriage with both Chief J and T. I know they wanted the best for my children and me. Nonetheless, I told Chief J I respected her concern, but I wanted to make my marriage work. When you are twenty-six, no one can tell you anything. You are a know-it-all-but-the-truth twenty-six-year-old.
And of course, Chief J was right.
The previous evening he came home after a fourteen-day field exercise with the Marines at Camp Pendleton. I had arrived home an hour or two prior. I was in the midst of preparing dinner when he walked up to me and asked what was for dinner. I guess I didn’t answer fast enough because I felt a hard slap across my face. I was dazed and tried to protect myself by pushing him away. But he grabbed my arms, pulled me into the kids’ bedroom and threw me to the ground. While on the ground, I immediately coverd my heavily pregnant belly because he began kicking me screaming with his combat booted foot screaming,
“You whore! I hate you and that baby!”
The Love of My Enemy
The night I was admitted, the first person I called was my abuser. I couldn’t call my parents or other family members. They would have told me I was being a neglectful wife and I should return home. I definitely wasn’t asking my father for advice. He was the one who told my husband to beat me. He told my husband, ‘You need to beat her. She’s too independent. You’re the man. Beating her will show her who’s in charge.’ Sounds like love, right?
I called my husband and told him I was in the hospital. At first, he sounded frightened and I understood why. He probably thought I went to the ER and the medical staff may have documented his abuse. Lucky for him, I tried that many times before and nothing happened. Hence, why here I’m on the fifth floor. My only escape plan was my great escape from him.
“Why are you in the crazy ward?”
“You know why.”
“No, I don’t know why. If I did I wouldn’t ask.”
“You stomped, raped and sodomized me. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“Did you say anything to anyone?”
“No, I didn’t. I’m too embarrassed.”
“Well, don’t. I’ll be there within the hour.”
Standing here looking at the black, shiny receiver of the payphone, I don’t know whether I should hang up or bang it into the gray, concrete wall. If I did the latter, the nurses would have to restrain me just as they restrained Scott (that’s another story I’ll share later). I’ll pass on that behavior for now. I have to stay calm. I need to be alert when my husband arrives. I want him to witness what he has done to me. Maybe this time he will acknowledge he has an anger problem. I hope he will get some help. For some strange reason, I still love him. Isn’t that how it usually happens for abused women? I don’t know. It just doesn’t make much sense for me to love a man who beats me and despises me and his unborn child.
Rules of Engagement
Only spouses, immediate family members and authorized military personnel can visit. I’m very nervous because my husband will arrive soon and I don’t know how I will react. I must remain calm and not show hostility. If I fail, they would remand me to the fifth floor for as long as the psychiatrist deems it necessary and that I’m no longer a danger to myself and unborn child.
I’m being watched very closely. My psychiatrist told me she believed I was a threat to my unborn child and myself. If I refused to participate fully with recommended treatments, she would ‘strongly suggest’ having my unborn baby taken from me, most likely given to my abusive husband. She also stated that I would immediately be removed from active duty and given an other-than-honorable discharge.
I show no emotion. However, I’m breaking inside. I’m silently screaming for mercy. I’m begging for grace. I won’t allow that to happen. I want to stay in the Navy. My children depend on my survival.