Showing posts with label domestic violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label domestic violence. Show all posts

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stranger Angels Among Us Healing PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 2, 2022

“If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

Those were the words Chris told his therapist. He wasn't a veteran but had #PTSD. It hit him after reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2012 when a bomb blast nearly killed him. It struck him again when his wife decided waiting for him to commit suicide was taking too long, and she decided to kill him. For seven years, he lost everything he had evaporate, including his faith in God.

On Google Play and Audio July 4th, 2022

The Lost Son Alive Again is part one of this three-part series. It is also available as an audiobook.

The series is about the PTSD all of us survivors face. Too many dismiss what we go through because reporters cover veterans more than the rest of us. If they don't know we're real, we feel abandoned with no way of finding comforting support to discover we are not alone and our futures are not filled with hopelessness.

Chris was a reporter and domestic violence survivor with PTSD. The only friend Chris had was the bartender at a local bar. Ed was an ex-pastor with PTSD after a young veteran committed suicide instead of talking to him.

Chris's best friend Bill since childhood was a soldier with PTSD, determined to stay in the Army until a member of his unit was kicked out under personality disorder instead of being helped. David was in the same unit with PTSD, also retiring believing it was his only option. They walked back into Chris's life on the night he decided it was time for his suffering to come to an end.

David and Bill told Chris about Mandy, a mysterious woman living in Gabriel New Hampshire that healed them. She was a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence because her husband abused her and then tried to kill her.

He met Alex and Mary Michaels, brother and sister Christian book publishers who had PTSD from child abuse. They offered him a chance to write a book about healing PTSD, sending him on a journey to not just change his life, but the lives of all survivors.

Grace was a retired Orlando Police Officer with PTSD after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. She was one of  Chris's best friends too.

Drake was a gay female wrestler until during her last fight, her opponent died. She had PTSD from that along with the suicide of her first love interest. She became Mandy's protector after Mandy saved her from suicide.

Benjamin was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and extremely wealthy because a Korean War veteran helped him heal.

Throughout these books, there are many different characters struggling to heal and when they find it, they pass it on to all those they come into contact with. 

Part two introduces more characters and covers their spiritual struggles along with how healing is always a work in progress. It is a battle no one wins alone, but with support, it is one that can be won. 

From Stranger Angels Among Us


Chris arrived at his therapist Dariana Kemp’s office. The pastor Ed told him about helping him heal and had retired but he suggested another pastor/psychologist he knew. She was a good fit for Chris and gained his trust. He called her for an emergency appointment before he left for Gabriel.

Her office was in an old mansion in the center of Salem. She was only middle-aged but had the wisdom of what Chris called an “old spirit” with short salt and pepper hair, piercing eyes, behind large rim purple glasses, and an infectious laugh. She knew more about the Bible than anyone else he had ever known. She got into working on PTSD using psychology and spirituality after losing her Vietnam veteran father to suicide.

Chris sat in the huge leather chair near the fireplace playing with his fingers as his eyes moved everywhere in the room, avoiding having to look at Dariana. He knew she could see right through him.

While he was looking at the massive wall of books, she gave him a few minutes to put his thoughts together, then gave up. “Ok Chris, it’s time to speak up. What’s going on? You said it was urgent.” She knew him well enough to have extra patience with him. For a great writer, he was lousy at concocting stories to speak and even worse at lying to cover up what he didn’t want to say. 

“I’m upset Grace isn’t coming because I don’t want to do this but she was going to make it a little easier to do. Now I have to go there alone, have my heart ripped out for Mandy, and then drive back alone.” He took a deep breath, finally looked at her, then hung his head down. “I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to.  I want you to tell me I don’t have to go there.”

“You don’t have to go there. You could just email Drake, get her thoughts about Mandy and let her approve the script or make her changes. But you already know that. Why do you need me to tell you what you already know?”

“I guess I needed reassurance.” Hating the thought of having to admit it, “My confidence is in the toilet right now. The first book was done and in book stores in six months and so was the second one. I’ve been working on this one for eight months and it still isn’t done.”

“What do you think is holding you back?”

“The others were easier, I guess because I lived in that hell and I knew what put me there. With this, with it being about kids, it’s causing more emotional pain than I expected. I had to read so many articles on child abuse, that it made me sick. That’s why I knew I had to talk to the people already in my life because they lived in that hell and found their way out.” Dariana saw he was holding something back. She waited. He slammed the arm of the chair. “You know what pisses me off the most about all this?”

“That it’s all still happening?”

“Not just that. The so-called pro-life people screaming about how they are protecting the lives of the unborn! What about protecting the lives of the born? What about protecting them when they get raped or abused by their parents? I keep thinking about that woman who was raped and decided to have the baby so she could put it up for adoption but the rapist had rights just because of the state they lived in. If he hadn’t freaked out and got shot in jail, I wonder what would have happened to the baby.”

“Sometimes it’s like laws protect criminals more than the victims.”

“Ya. All these claims about morality and not a peep out of any of them about kids being gunned down in schools by weapons designed to kill as many as possible because other people want to have fun with those same guns. These born children should matter to all of them at least as much as the unborn. Since they don’t, since they don’t show up in mass to protect children born into this world, with the soul from God within their bodies, it proves those people are only pro-birth and I think that is a true abomination.”

“God granted everyone free will to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do or do not believe. Sometimes I wonder what gives others the right to force their own beliefs onto everyone else. They scream the loudest, so everyone else is their enemy and evil in their eyes. There are denominations believing people have the right to decide for themselves. Presbyterians fully support the right for people to decide for themselves so that every child is loved because they were wanted. I still preach when another pastor goes on vacation and gets into all kinds of discussions with folks because of all the other talk that’s out there. They know what is right for them and what their moral values are, but they end up questioning themselves because others try to force theirs on them.”

“And most of the others are phony as hell.” Dariana saw how the anger just rushed out of him. Then sadness moved in. “Like Mandy’s parents. I need to know what it was like for Mandy before she became a miracle worker. That’s the only way I can be able to help kids with the new book. I think the only way I can understand what it was like living in that hell, is to go in there so God can get them out.”

“So how are the mood swings now? How many times does it still happen?”

“They aren’t as bad as they used to be."

“Good. Work on that more. You’ve been hearing the stories of others for a couple of years now. Why is Mandy’s story so hard for you?”

“I honestly don’t know. I’ve been questioning myself more than usual in the last couple of months. I mean, I had a great childhood. My parents loved me, gave me what I needed and I always knew they were proud of me.” His hands began to tremble. He stood up, and she turned to watch him walk to the window. He was looking away from her, shoved his hands into his pockets, and took a deep breath. “In a way, I’m glad they passed away before all that happened. I don’t think I could have taken seeing the pain in their eyes. They’d have no way of knowing how things would turn out like this and it would have been seven years of agony for them too.”

“I can understand that. What do you think they’d feel about all this now?”

“They’d be proud but, I’m glad they didn’t have to suffer before my life got good again.” He slowly walked back to the chair and sat down.

She waited for him to say more, watched his body language and how his eyes were moving. “I think you’re holding something back, but when you’re ready, you’ll tell me what it is. “ How’s the drinking?”

“Good. I enjoy it now instead of abusing it and starting to learn how to, as you said, experience my feelings, like you said I should, instead of trying to drown them. It isn’t easy but you taught me how to stop fighting them.”

She grinned, “Seriously? Did you forget you suck at lying?”

“Honestly, I still drink too much when things get too intense.”

“We'll work on that and maybe start praying on it instead of trying to get plastered.“

“I’ll try harder.”

“We talked a lot about the flashbacks before but I need you to go back to right before it. Where were you going to?”

“We were headed to meet Bill and his unit.”

“What was your mood like?”

“I don’t know. I was pissed off about something.”

“Can you remember what it was?”

As he covered his mouth, his eyes were moving rapidly, then froze looking at her. “I was pissed off because I tried to get her to go a different way. It was like a premonition that the road was dangerous.”

“Any idea where that came from?”

“I don’t know. The longer we were on that road, the stronger the feeling of doom came over me.” He sat quietly searching his memory. “The more upset I was getting, the more she laughed at me. I told her she was just as bossy as my wife and told her they had more than just their names in common. Oh my God! I forgot her name was Brenda too. Wow! Anyway, we had the windows up because of all the sand, but for some reason, I opened mine.”

“You said you were looking out the window. Do you remember what made you turn your head to the left?”

He winced, “If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

“Just say it and then that memory will lose some of the power it has over you. Besides, I told you before, we’re all a little bit nuts.”

He didn’t want to say it. The words were trying to get out but he locked his lips to stop them from escaping knowing once he said it, he’d never be able to take it back. He looked at her, remembered how much he knew he could trust her, and the words escaped. “I heard my name.”

“Was it your driver’s voice?”

“No, it was a male’s voice. I heard it loud and clear but I can’t make sense out of it because we were going something like forty miles an hour and her window was still up.”

“Have your thoughts about that changed since it happened?”

“No. To tell you the truth, I forgot about most of that. Why? What do you think it means?”

“Maybe God was trying to prevent it? We hear stories of things like that happening all the time. Someone didn’t get on a plane for reasons they couldn’t explain and it ended up crashing. People decide to go a different way and then end up discovering there was a major accident or a bridge collapsed. I think God tries to prevent a lot of things but people don’t understand what He’s trying to get them to pay attention to.”

“All I know right now is, if I didn’t open the window, the glass would have shattered on top of the shrapnel hitting us. If I didn’t turn my head to the left because of the voice, if I survived it, my face would have been destroyed and I probably would have been blind. Hard to take in right now, but I know you’re probably right.

“I’m glad you told me that and let that secret out. That flashback will lose some power now, just like when you found out Brenda died and wouldn’t haunt you anymore. What about the dreams? Any closer to making sense of them?

“Nope. They’re getting stronger. Last night I saw Grace at the Salem Willows wharf. She was standing on the edge for a while then she jumped in. She didn’t come back up.” Chris looked down at the floor.”

“Is that how it ended?”

“No. I was terrified and woke up. My heart was beating hard and I forced myself to go back to sleep. Then in the dream, she came up out of the water holding the woman from the other dreams. Grace was dry but she was dripping wet with her hair all over her face. The only thing I could see was her lips. She mouthed the words, ‘help me find my way,’ and then I woke up.” “Didn’t the sleeping pills help?”

“No, I stopped taking them because they made it worse. I couldn’t wake up after it started and then it just went into loop replay with the same dream. Without them, I can wake up and when I finally fall back to sleep, they usually don’t start again.”

“So the dreams could be tied to the book. You said they were getting stronger over the last couple of months and that was when you started to struggle with it.”

“I just keep thinking what if,” he didn’t want to get the words out because he knew once he did, it would become real. “What if I’m not supposed to write this one and that’s why I’m having a hard time?”

“What if you are and you are the one fighting yourself? Think about it. What came over you to want to write it in the first place?”

“Some of the letters I got about the other books. People told me what they went through and how much the books helped them. When I started to write it, that was around the same time the dreams started but they were only coming once in a while.” “That’s starting to sound more like a vision than just a dream.”

“What do you mean?”

Dariana got up, went to the bookcase, and returned with a book in her hand, The Vision Awaits. She handed it to Chris. “The book of Revelations was filled with visions of what John saw. It’s like the feeling you have that is compelling you to go back to Gabriel. The same thing you felt when you were compelled to go there the first time and back last year. It’s a vision of something you need to know has to happen instead of you just feeling what you need to do.”

“I trust God more than ever, but I still have a hard time trusting myself. Do you think the dreams are getting stronger because the time is getting closer to it happening?”

“Maybe. That’s something that you need to be patient for. None of us can see what God can. None of us know what’s the best way, but He does. Most of the time we create a mess because we don’t like to wait for anything, and what makes it harder, is when we lose faith it will happen. We screw things up by trying to do it on our timeline. I’ve done that plenty of times myself. I think we all have. I also know that getting to people soon after the trauma happens has a lot better chance of keeping them from the extra suffering.

“I know I wish I leaned on someone and then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have suffered for those seven years.” Chris looked down at the floor. “I mean, I know it wasn’t all my fault what happened to me, but I decided to walk away from God when I should have been running toward Him.”

“You didn’t have anyone to open your eyes and give you a reason to. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Chris was feeling a rush of guilt, “That’s just it. At first, I did. Bill tried for a while. The Chaplain in his company kept reaching out to me whenever I went to cover the wars. I remember the second time I was covering them, I forgot my Bible. I missed having that comfort. The Chaplain handed me it and I carried it on every assignment until it got blown up with me in Afghanistan. Then, after I was back home, recovering, he kept calling me and emailing me and I wouldn’t respond. I think that was God’s way of telling me He was there for me but I refused to see it. Over the years, it was like I didn’t even want to admit someone was trying to help me. Bill, eventually he gave up too.”

“Did you try to contact him?”

“Who? Bill or the Chaplain?”

“Both. I know you have Bill back in your life but what about the years in between?”

“I wasn’t ready to listen back then. I guess after that, I felt ashamed of the way I treated him and the Chaplain. After the press conference we had about the Netflix series, the Chaplain wrote me a letter and said that he never gave up on me but put me into God’s hands. He said that he always saw something special in me and when he saw me giving my speeches, he saw it come out. He said he was proud of me.”

“Did you write back to him?”

“Ya. We even spoke a few times on the phone since then. I keep wondering what would have happened if I did listen to him back then. Would the rest of this still happen?”

“That’s something only God knows. I don’t pretend to know His mind any better than you do, but from what I’ve learned about you, I don’t think you would have accomplished what you did had you not suffered the way you did.

“What do you mean?” Chris was getting angry, “That my suffering was part of His plan?

“Hell no. What I mean is, that you weren’t ready to listen but above that, you had forgotten how powerful God is and how much all of us do depend on others in this world. That is what you’ve added to what you are preaching.”

“I’m not a preacher!”

“Yes, you are. You keep saying that as if you don’t want to admit it to yourself. That is exactly what you’ve been doing. Why do you get so defensive whenever that is pointed out to you? Is that what you’re holding inside of you?”

Chris looked down at the floor. “I don’t know how to say it. I’ve never told another person. I didn't even tell Mandy the whole thing.”

Dariana leaned forward in her chair. “Whatever it is, it may be what’s missing in your healing. Just close your eyes and tell me.”

“When I was young I wanted to become a Priest. That part I was able to talk about. It was a reoccurring dream that I never talked about before.”

“You’re in a safe place right now to talk about it. Just close your eyes so you aren’t trying to read my facial expressions and remember the dream.”

Chris leaned back, closed his eyes and the memory came to life. “I was in the sanctuary wearing the vestments of a priest, and carrying an empty challis, walking down the aisle, like the Holy procession but there was no one else inside. All the pews were empty. Instead of going up another aisle, I carried the challis out the front door. When I got outside, I was wearing a flannel shirt, T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, as I wore to school. I stood on the top step, looked down at the challis and it was full. I looked up and saw hundreds of people there. I gave Communion to all of them, and then preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was looking at him. “What happened after that?”

“I just saw it all again like it was happening.”

“Close your eyes again and tell me what you told the people.”

“I preached to the crowd about the Good Samaritan and how the stranger took care of the man who had been attacked and robbed. How those who claimed to be serving God had no compassion in them.” He recited Luke 10:30-37. Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was amazed. “You said that perfectly. How much more of the Bible have you memorized?"

“That’s the only one. I think it’s because I had that dream so many times when I was young, it became a part of me.” “Have you thought about why it means so much to you?"

“I’m not sure but I always thought about the Samaritan and what happened afterward. I mean, no one knew what he did other than the man he helped and the Innkeeper. So what Jesus said must have come from God watching it. I think God was trying to get the others to stop and help the man but the Samaritan was the only one who listened to Him. I thought about how he must have done a lot of other things only God knew about and that was the way I should live my life too. Now I get upset when people praise me and ask why I do it. The other thing that bothers me is when I get accused of trying to turn people away from the church. I mean, maybe in the back of my mind, they’re right. I mean, it’s appalling to me how so many members of the clergy, no matter what denomination, show absolutely no connection to what Christ taught. They give Christians a bad name and make people think they’re all reprehensible.”

“There is another way to look at it. You brought the Communion out to people who felt they couldn’t enter the church. That tells me what you’ve been doing is exactly what you were intended to do. It also means that the vision of the woman you’ve been having is not the first time you had a vision.”

“What do you mean?”

“That dream you kept having was more like a vision but you just didn’t understand it. You put hope back into the minds of the hopeless. You bring the power of God’s love directly to the churchless children of God. They’re learning that they’re not Fatherless. Maybe in a way, you’re also proving the frauds are not serving God.”

“I hope you’re right because I’m going to need to harness whatever power I have inside of me to do it. It feels as if something is brewing out there.”

“Then pray for the words they’ll need to hear.” Dariana smiled, “The spirit inside you has given you the words people needed to hear and will keep giving them to you. Believe that and trust that. It also explains why you feel so uncomfortable with people praising you. Just deal with it and praise God more so they’ll see He is behind whatever you do for them.”

When Chris got up to leave, Dariana decided to ask him a question she had been wondering since they met. “I have to ask you something. You’re a multimillionaire but you still dress like you don’t have any money at all and live in the same apartment you had. Why do you still live like you have nothing?”

“That’s an easy question to answer. I lived my life this way all along. Even when I had money living in LA, I didn’t like living in that condo. It was too fancy. I felt out of place. I also felt uncomfortable dressing up, like it wasn’t me. Anyway, I live a comfortable life even though it sure is an odd one.” He smiled and Dariana hugged him.

“Well, at least now I understand why you won’t let me tell anyone you’ve been paying me to take care of people with no insurance or money for the last three months.”

“You’re good and too many people need your help, like me. I want them to be able to heal like you’re helping me.

When Chris left, Dariana went over to her computer, opened Chris’s file, and said a prayer, as she always did when he left. She wrote, “I prayed for Chris that God would open his heart and mind and receive the courage and strength he needs for what is to come. I prayed that he would finally open his heart enough so that he would fully feel the joy of what true love is and let it fill the empty place still left in his soul.”

Chris got into his car and sat still for a while. He thought about what Dariana said and about the vision from his youth. It made him understand why he never wanted any praise for what he did for others and why he kept as much as possible secret.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

In The Arms of Stranger Angels


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 13, 2022

(About the book Stranger Angels)

Chris survived domestic violence. He had a wonderful childhood but it was what his wife did to him that nearly destroyed him. He was wounded while reporting on the war in Afghanistan. When he returned home, she hated the fact he was home, instead of trying to help him heal. She tried to kill him. Having failed at that, she stalked him.

Mandy, the woman who began to heal Chris, survived child abuse and an abusive husband. He tried to kill her but failed. 

Alex and Mary, brother and sister, survived child abuse.

All of them, along with many others in Stranger Angels, not only survived child abuse, they healed. The healing did not stop with them. They passed on hope to all others that they could not just live a happier life but could become part of a miracle for others to hope for.

All of them had PTSD because of what other people who were supposed to love them did to them. All of them were healing. Some healed completely. Others, like Chris were still healing their wounds.

They knew what it was like to feel hopeless. They knew what it was like to feel as if God allowed it all to happen and to lose faith in His love. They also knew what it was like to have their faith restored and have their broken hearts mended. They were no longer God's lost children searching for hope. 

It is because of this, that Chris set out to write his third book to offer hope to survivors of domestic violence. He traveled to talk to his friends to gain a better understanding of what it was like for children when their own parents inflicted the most damage to them. All of them were examples of what is possible for others to have in their futures and be empowered to dream of the day when they would also become healed.

I know what it is like too. My Dad was a violent alcoholic until I was 13. He recovered with help of people from AA. He ended up helping others. My ex-husband tried to kill me and then stalked me. So, yes, I know what it is like. I survived many other things, but it was the damage he did to me that did not go away until I found out he died. Even with the suffering I went through, I managed to get married again, had a daughter and lived a pretty good life. I had help along the way. The thing that helped heal me more was my faith in God and helping others find what I found. That no matter how lonely, hopeless or lost we feel, He sends someone into our life to let us know He hears our prayers and feels our tears. Helping others was healing for me too!

Some think these books are sad but that is only part of their stories. There is great sadness and struggles. Just like there is great sadness and struggles for anyone trying to heal after surviving any of the causes of PTSD. Just like others, there is also hope when people understand what PTSD is, what caused it and what you can do to #takebackyourlife from #PTSD. Having someone who knows what your life is like helps you #breakthesilence and break the power PTSD has had over your life.

I hope you find comfort and a better understanding of what it is like to be in the arms of Stranger Angels.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Stranger Angels Healing Scars of Abuse

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 28, 2022

Stranger Angels part three of The Lost Son is about domestic abuse survivors going on to lead awesome lives because someone came along to help them heal.

Chris thought about how he didn't spend enough time writing about healing from what happened to many people in his life. He had a good childhood and great parents. Too many of his friends were raised by horrible parents and his ex-wife was the target of bullies in grade school.

He decided to write another book telling their stories to offer hope to others, including survivors of domestic violence committed by a spouse. After all, he was one of them. It is hard enough for female to break away from an abusive spouse/partner. It was almost impossible for him to ask for help when his wife was the abuser. He had PTSD from that plus the bomb blast that almost killed him.

Mandy, the woman who taught him about how God still works miracles, was also an abused by her mother and then her husband. She went on to help people heal from trauma for 40 years. 

Alex and Mary, the agents for his publisher, were abused by a horrible mother.

While helping people who lived in a shelter, Chris encountered two sisters who were abused by their mother's boyfriend. She disappeared and they wanted help to find their Godmother so they wouldn't end up in foster care.

One of the woman from the shelter said that Chris was a stranger angel because of Hebrews 13:2 

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

He had been taking supplies to the shelter every week but no one knew who he was. They all called him the stranger angel.

Chris was also the target of a fraudulent preacher who had many secrets of his own.

The thing that Chris kept proving over and over again is that there were more good people in the world than there are evil ones. Most of the ones doing the most good, knew what it was like to have evil done to them and they did all they could to help others just like them.

I know, because I was the child of a violent alcoholic. While physically, he never hurt me, my older brother was his target. My Dad stopped drinking when I was 13 and changed his life for the sake of his family. Later in adulthood, my abuser was my husband. At first it was verbal abuse, but that didn't hurt me at all. After everything I had already survived, his words did no damage to me. One night he came home from work and it became physical abuse to the point where he tried to kill me. He stalked me for a long time after that.

I know what it is like to feel helpless, as well as not feeling worthy of receiving help but that is never the end of our story. Someone comes along to help us heal. We learn to trust again and I hope when you read this book, you learn to believe in miracles again too. After all, they happen all the time when God sends stranger angels to deliver the answer to our prayers.





Saturday, June 15, 2019

Police Officer victim of domestic violence...in her own home

Hero Down: Gothenburg Police Officer Jill Larson Murdered By Husband


Blue Lives Matter
Holly Matkin
June 14, 2019

Gothenburg Police Officer Jill Larson served her department for 12 years.

Gothenburg, NE – Gothenburg Police Officer Jill Larson was fatally shot by her husband at their home on June 7.
A relative discovered the bodies of the 53-year-old veteran officer and her 52-year-old husband, Jeff McCandless, at approximately 9p.m. the next day, and alerted police, the Kearney Hub reported.

Investigators said they believe Jeff murdered Officer Larson, then fatally shot himself, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The Dawson County Attorney’s Office and the Nebraska State Patrol are handling the ongoing investigation into the murder-suicide.

Officer Larson joined the Gothenburg Police Department in 2007, and became the third woman to ever serve on the city’s police force, according to her obituary.

“Jill was considered by many to be one of the best police officers this community has ever had,” the City of Gothenburg said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
read more here

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Female Air Force Captain, assaulted twice...including Lackland Air Force

Faculty questioned whether Air Force Captain was really a victim of sexual assault: Witness

Comments made same month captain was terminated from internship for second time 

KSAT ABC News 12 
By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter 
December 21, 2018 

SAN ANTONIO - Faculty members of a clinical psychology internship at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland openly discussed the validity of claims from an intern that she was a victim of sexual and domestic assault, according to records reviewed by the KSAT 12 Defenders.
Former Air Force Capt. Robin Becker said she was removed from the internship after disclosing in 2015 that she was sexually assaulted and repeatedly physically assaulted by her former fiancĂ©. 

In a letter submitted in January in support of Becker's attempts to get the Air Force to confer her psychology degree, Dr. Jeff Haibach recounted a lunch he attended along the Riverwalk in June 2016 with faculty from Becker's program.
Haibach, who at that time was engaged to a psychologist who had a supervisory role in Becker's internship, said faculty members were laughing and joking about Becker's tenuous standing in the rigorous year-long program at Lackland Air Force Base's Wilford Hall.

"As though Robin was making some sort of drama, as though she was entirely making information up or at least greatly exaggerating it," Haibach told the Defenders during an interview.

Becker's former fiancé, Adam Chylinski, was criminally charged in three attacks against Becker in 2014-2015. Two of the attacks happened in San Antonio while Becker was taking part in the internship; the other attack happened in their native Pennsylvania months before Becker moved to San Antonio.

read more here

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Accused of abusing his children, judge gave him custody and child support?

Young Boys Allegedly Abused By Air Force Colonel Now In His Sole Custody
FORBES
Tara Haelle
August 17, 2018

 “Eric has admitted he cannot control his anger and sexual impulses. It’s sad he is like this because of the IED explosion, but that won't help the boys if he physically or sexually abuses them.” Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Arrant

Tomorrow morning, two six-year old brothers will leave the sole custody of the mother they have lived with for the past five years to live in the sole custody of their father, an Air Force colonel alleged to have physically and sexually abused the boys for years.
The US Air Force's handling of a child abuse case appears to have influenced a civilian custody decision.U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TECH. SGT. RICHARD P. EBENSBERGER

The Air Force had deemed the abuse allegations against Colonel Eric Holt as lacking evidence, but as this reporter previously covered, an extraordinary amount of evidence from photographs, video, medical records and witnesses supports the allegations. This evidence includes five disclosures by the boys themselves to non-parental caregivers, medical authorities and child welfare authorities.

Yet in an August 15 Maryland Montgomery County family court decision, Judge Joan Ryon awarded sole custody of the boys to Col. Holt and ordered the boys’ mother, a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist, only to supervised visitation once every two weeks. Ryon did not require Col. Holt to pay any of the more than $100,000 he owed in back child support—despite a previous court order that he do so—but she ordered the boys’ mother, Dr. Holt*, to pay $5700 a month in child support to their father going forward.
read more here

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Gulf War Veteran standoff with police ended peacefully

Shots fired at Clinton police officers during standoff
KMBC 9 ABC News
July 14, 2018
Standoff ends peacefully when suspect surrenders

Clinton, MO
The suspect in a domestic violence incident fired a weapon at police during a standoff in Clinton, Missouri Saturday evening.

Nobody was injured. But a couple of police cars were hit.

Clinton Police describe the suspect as a Desert Storm veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He eventually surrendered peacefully and police took him into custody.
go to KMBC for updates


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Valor Act abused by some, victims left paying the price

Fixing the Valor Act for Victims 
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 9, 2018

There are many things that get to me. The most obvious one is PTSD in our veterans, especially Vietnam veterans. I got into this work 36 years ago because I fell in love with my Vietnam veteran husband. They have been forgotten about in all the "efforts" everyone seems to be talking about.

There is another topic that gets to me, and that is domestic violence.

I was a victim of domestic violence. As a kid with a Korean War veteran Dad, who was a violent alcoholic until I was 13 and he stopped drinking. For me it was what he was doing to my oldest brother and my Mom and the constant threat of it happening. So, I am a survivor of that. 

I was a victim of my ex-husband, not a veteran, deciding one night, I needed to die. As soon as the police took him away, I was, yet again, a survivor of domestic abuse.

There is a report out of Massachusetts about a Vietnam veteran who is accused of domestic violence. Vietnam service may keep veteran from facing assault charges on the Boston Globe

SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF
Louise Guy hugged her dog Blue. Guy’s ex-boyfriend is accused of assaulting her.
"Accused of slamming his girlfriend’s head into the floor and nearly strangling one of her golden retrievers, Warren R. Broughton faced charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and animal cruelty in a New Bedford courtroom."
There is no excuse for this. While justice should be measured with military service, justice must also factor in the victims.
It looks like Judge McGovern thought it was more important to honor the veteran's service than hold him accountable for what he was charged for doing to his girlfriend.
“Well, thank you for your service to the United States of America,” Judge James McGovern told him.
One more case of politicians writing Bills without really understanding what the hell they are doing.
The Valor Act’s author, state Senator Michael F. Rush, said in a statement in January that he would change the law to prevent such applications.
“Domestic abuse and assault is unacceptable, inexcusable, and intolerable by any individual, especially by a veteran,” Rush said then.

But his bill, which passed the Senate in May, did not end eligibility for those accused of domestic violence. Nor did it provide any way of tracking defendants who had already invoked the Valor Act in court.
The article points out that veterans do not want anyone to receive a "get out of jail free" pass. The Veterans Courts are great at holding veterans accountable. They make sure veterans get the help they need, support from a mentor to get through the program, and if they do not do it, they go to jail.

Too many times we have seen people take advantage of poorly written laws. This is one of those times. Read the rest of the article and see how many have abused this effort to do the right thing for our veterans, and left victims paying for it.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Yoga group helping domestic survivors of violence

Personal note to readers: As a survivor of domestic abuse, 2X, it is good to see something like this.

"In response, Bilyana created Tough As Milk, a nonprofit named after her mother, Milka, which offers free trauma-informed yoga classes in Cleveland to survivors of domestic abuse."

My Dad was a violent alcoholic until I was 13. I was not his target. My Mom and oldest brother were. I was the target of my ex-husband, when he came home from work one night, and decided I needed to die. 

I faced death a lot of times, but while every experience changed me, I survived with pieces of all of it effecting how I live my life. It all helps me understand the veterans I work with.

They cannot understand anything I went through, just as I cannot understand what they lived through in combat. We can, however, understand what it all did to us, and we help each other heal.

It is one of the reasons I started PTSD Patrol. We could not control what happened to us, but we do control what we do every day after it. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Judge told veteran PTSD nothing to be ashamed of

Former soldier who assaulted partner told his PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of by judge
Wales Online
By Jason Evans Court And Crime Reporter
18:07, 24 APR 2018
Judge Walters said: “Today is the day we are going to get a grip on this. You are not a bad person at heart, you are suffering from an illness and that should carry no shame - there is no shame in it.”
Richard Evans served with the Army in Afghanistan - and is "haunted" by some of the things he saw. A former soldier suffering with severe post-traumatic stress disorder who assaulted his partner has been told there is “nothing to be ashamed of” in the illness he is suffering.

Richard John Evans broke down in tears in the dock when told by a judge it was okay to talk about his mental health issues.

Swansea Crown Court heard that the 26-year-old had completed tours of duty in Afghanistan during which he saw children killed - an experience that “haunted him”.

The judge said he was surprised the after-care given to soldiers leaving the Army was so short.

Torn Scapens, prosecuting, said that in December last year an argument broke out between Evans and his partner at their home in Aberavon over the food she had cooked him.

Though the woman described their long-term relationship as “good”, Evans suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and in recent times had started lifting weights and taking steroids.
read more here

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

National Guardsman Saved Mother and Daughter

Police: Good Samaritan saved mother, daughter
KOB.com Web Staff
February 20, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Police say the man who opened fire in a deadly southeast Albuquerque shooting, likely saved the lives of a mother and daughter.
A 12-year National Guard veteran stopped to help and told police the man pointed his gun at him, so he shot him.

Police say the mother feared what would have happened if that veteran had not intervened.

"She said, 'He saved our lives,'" Drobik said Monday evening. "I mean, that's how much she was in fear of getting killed by this guy."

The Good Samaritan is not facing charges. The district attorney is reviewing the case.
read more here

Monday, December 18, 2017

PTSD, Domestic Violence and Alaska?

Did Sarah Palin get her son help after the last time? If he went for help, and it did not work, then why didn't she use her celebrity image to scream about how our veterans are not getting the help they need? 

Aren't they fair questions considering that she was the Governor of Alaska, and as such, responsible for the National Guards.
During a January 2016 rally in support of President Trump, Sarah Palin suggested Track’s problems stemmed from post-traumatic stress disorder he developed after a military deployment in Iraq. 
“I can certainly relate with other families who feel these ramifications of some PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with,” the former governor said at the time.
That was almost two years ago.

Sarah Palin's oldest son, Track, arrested on domestic violence charges
Los Angeles Times
Matt Pearce
December 17, 2017
Track Palin is shown at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., in September 2008. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty Images)

Track Palin, the oldest son of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was arrested Saturday in Alaska on charges of domestic violence. It marks the second time he’s been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in two years.

The charges seem to stem from an incident in his family’s hometown of Wasilla, though further details about what happened were not immediately available.

Palin, 28, was arraigned Sunday morning on three counts: felony burglary, misdemeanor reckless assault and misdemeanor criminal mischief for causing up to $500 in property damage, according to online court records. Each of the charges was related to domestic violence.

read more here

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

RCMP Cpl.Trevor O'Keefe Kindness Remembered

Woman saved from domestic violence by Cpl. Trevor O'Keefe helps raise thousands in his memory

CBC News
October 11, 2017
O'Keefe took his own life last month after a lengthy battle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the weeks since his death, other officers suffering from PTSD have spoken up about the battle they endure outside of work hours.

Family members of RCMP Cpl. Trevor O'Keefe were in Clarenville on Wednesday for a walk to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association. (Stephanie Marsden)
Fourteen years after RCMP Cpl.Trevor O'Keefe helped her escape domestic violence with her three children, Donna Hancock wanted to help his family.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people assembled in the streets in Clarenville to walk for the beloved officer, who took his own life Sept. 11.


    Together, they raised $8,326 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
    "Trevor helped me out over a decade ago when I had a very difficult time in my life," Hancock told CBC's St. John's Morning Show. "I left a very abusive relationship with three small kids. Walking back and forth to work, he always checked in on me."
    The walkers were led by a police car, fire truck and ambulance. Several police officers took part in the walk, including coworkers of O'Keefe.
    Members of the O'Keefe family — including his parents, Pierre and Biddy, and children, Liam and Melissa — were in attendance.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2017

    Combat Medic Served with Welsh Regiment in Iraq, Faces Judge Over Jelly?

    Before you think I've totally lost my mind, read the story and then understand this veteran served as a medic in combat, but couldn't get over jelly even though he was getting help. Just goes to show that not all help is good help if this happened.

    Iraq veteran threatened girlfriend with knife in row over jelly

    Devon Live
    Ted Davenport
    August 23, 2017


    Former army medic had PTSD when he attacked partner
    A judge has showed mercy on a former army medic who attacked his partner while suffering from post-traumatic stress caused by his service in Iraq.

    Christopher Minards threatened his girlfriend with a knife and pushed her and her twin sister during a petty argument over spilled jelly.

    He had just come home from working a night shift as a hotel porter when he lost his temper and threw a mug at a mirror, breaking both.

    His behaviour was so violent that his partner and her twin sister both fled the home in Newton Abbot and waited for police to arrive.

    Minards, aged 32, is a former army medic who has been receiving support and treatment from veteran's charities for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dating back to his service with 4th Rifles and the Welsh Regiment in Iraq.
    read more here

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

    Woman, husband in fatal Norfolk shooting were both in Navy

    Not sure on this one since one part has "Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband was in critical condition..." but beginning says "husband was treated and released."
    Woman, husband in fatal Norfolk shooting were both in Navy
    Associated Press
    July 18, 2017

    NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. Navy says a woman fatally shot by Virginia police after she shot and wounded her husband was an active duty sailor, as is her husband.
    In this May 3, 2004 file photo, security personnel wait to inspect vehicles entering Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va. MORT FRYMAN/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT (TNS)
    Navy spokesman Matthew Allen said Tuesday that the husband, who was treated and released by a hospital after Monday night's shooting, is assigned to a unit on Naval Station Norfolk. Police in Virginia have not identified him.

    Virginia State Police said that 25-year-old India N. Nelson had been in a domestic dispute with her husband on Monday in Norfolk. At about 7 p.m. that evening, she and her husband were driving separate cars when they crashed into each other near a gate at Norfolk Naval Station.

    After Norfolk police responded and began to investigate, state police said Nelson shot her husband. Authorities said a Norfolk police officer then "engaged the woman and returned fire."
    read more here

    Sunday, April 23, 2017

    Almost a Victim of Murder-Suicide, Soldier Sees How Far He's Come

    Life shouldn't be like this. But all too often it is. When this Mom came home one day, her life changed. She took that pain and then tried to make life different for others suffering from domestic violence. When her child grew up, he joined the Army and now has a family of his own. 

    The lesson here is that while you cannot control what some do to you, what you do for others in in your control and there is the miracle of life.
    Mother of hanged baby speaks out to raise awareness of domestic abuse signs
    Tulsa World
    By Paighten Harkins
    Apr 23, 2017
    Hindsight • Mother of hanged toddler speaks out to raise awareness of domestic abuse signs
    Early one morning, Vera Jane “Janie” Birdwell (then Huddleston) went home from her job at a diner on North Sheridan Road. It was just before 4:30 a.m. She’d left a half-hour early because she felt sick.

    When she arrived at home that day, March 1, 1997, she couldn’t get inside. She soon learned why.

    Her then-husband had locked himself in with their 22-month-old son. He’d been trying to hang himself and their child using electrical cords and shoestrings — all of which had snapped — before she arrived.

    Although neither died, Birdwell said she’s been living with the trauma of that night — and the repercussions of the abuse leading to it — for the past two decades. Now in counseling and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Birdwell wanted to share her story as a cautionary tale for other victims of domestic abuse.

    “I went home, opened the door, and there it was,” Birdwell said. “My life’s been a living hell ever since.”
    Dakota said he considers himself successful. He graduated from high school and joined the Army. He lives in California with his wife, who he says is his rock. They had a baby girl in October.

    He doesn’t remember the night he almost died, but he can’t ignore it. It won’t go away. He said he used to be embarrassed to talk about it but now uses it as a way to see how far he’s come.

    “You can’t let stuff hold you down, because if you let stuff hold you down, it keeps you from growing,” he said.
    read more here

    Sunday, April 2, 2017

    Man Plead Guilty Burying Wife Under WWII Veteran's Grave

    Colorado woman's remains found under grave of WWII veteran
    Associated Press
    Thomas Peipert
    April 1, 2017
    "For 7,826 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes, the location of Tina's remains has been a mystery," Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said in a news release Friday.
    DENVER — A Colorado man who pleaded guilty Friday to killing his estranged wife more than two decades ago recently led authorities to her body, which was buried under the grave of a World War II veteran.

    John Sandoval, 52, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1995 death of Kristina Tournai-Sandoval.

    As part of a plea deal, he told investigators March 22 the remains were buried at a Greeley cemetery.
    read more here

    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Lawsuit: Fort Hood Multiple Murder-Suicide Could Have Been Prevented

    Lawsuit claims soldier’s gun access led to murder-suicide in Killeen
    KXAN News
    By Claire Ricke
    Published: February 22, 2017

    KILLEEN, Texas (KXAN) — One day away from the two year anniversary of a Killeen murder-suicide, a family is suing the U.S. government for failing to report a Fort Hood soldier’s restraining order violations, which allowed him to purchase a gun.

    In the lawsuit filed at an Austin federal court, the family claims weapon access led to the murder of three people and suicide of the soldier. In February 2015, police say, Atase Giffa shot and killed his wife and two neighbors before killing himself.

    According to the lawsuit, days before the murders Giffa and his wife were arguing, which escalated when he grabbed and threw her. Giffa’s wife Dawn was told by Killeen police to notify her husband’s commander about the incident. While she called the commander, Dawn and her son went to a neighboring home to find safety.

    The commander told Dawn that Giffa would be on a 48-hour watch and constrained to the barracks for seven days as well as having a restraining order filed against him, states the lawsuit. Fort Hood is accused by the lawsuit of not recording Giffa’s restraining order violations in the crime datebase that would have made it harder for him to buy a gun. The lawsuit does not state where Giffa bought the gun.
    read more here

    Thursday, February 9, 2017

    Fort Campbell soldier died protecting his fiancee's best friend

    Fort Campbell soldier died protecting his fiancee's best friend
    Army Times
    By: Meghann Myers
    February 8, 2017

    When news broke that two soldiers had been killed in an off-post home near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, early reports left out the third adult in the house that night.
    Spc. Priscilla East was killed Feb. 2 by her estranged husband in an off-post home near Fort Campbelly, Kentucky
    (Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle)
    Spc. Dominique House had invited her best friend and fellow 101st Airborne Division soldier Spc. Priscilla East over for dinner with her and her fiancee after East called and said she didn't feel safe going home after an argument with her estranged husband.

    But East's husband, Jeremy Demar, showed up at House's residence, House told Army Times in a Tuesday phone interview. Demar is accused of shooting his way into the home and killing House's fiancee, Spc. Christopher Hoch, 28, and East, 32.

    "It's been a lot survivor's guilt, I guess you could say," she said. "And then reading articles -- I don't know why the police didn't mention my name."

    "It feels impossible to live life without them right now," she added.
    read more here

    Sunday, February 5, 2017

    Domestic Violence: Two Fort Campbell Soldiers Killed

    2 Fort Campbell Soldiers Killed, Suspect in Custody
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    OAK GROVE, Ky.
    Feb 3, 2017
    Fort Campbell said in a statement Friday night that East and Hoch were both specialists and that Hoch was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.

    East, of Missouri City, Texas, was a health care specialist who joined the Army in 2011 and began serving at Fort Campbell in 2014.

    Hoch, of Ferndale, Michigan, was an infantryman who joined the Army in 2013 and arrived at Fort Campbell later that year.
    A domestic dispute near Fort Campbell has left two soldiers dead and a juvenile wounded, authorities said Friday.

    Jeremy Demar, 35, of Clarksville, Tennessee, forced his way into a house in Oak Grove, Kentucky, where he had tracked down his estranged wife, 32-year-old Priscilla Ann East, on Thursday night and fatally shot her and 28-year-old Christopher Ryan Hoch, Kentucky State Police said in a statement. East and Hoch were soldiers at the Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line, the statement said.
    Demar was charged Friday with murder, murder-domestic violence, burglary and assault. He is being held at the Montgomery County Jail. Records don't indicate whether he has an attorney.
    read more here