JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What if you're scared? What if your military boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife hit you again? What if he or she is verbally abusive and you want out?
But... you depend on their paycheck. What then?
At NAS Jax, the Director of Fleet and Family services, Carolyn McCorvey, says her staff is willing to help. If you have a pass to get on any local base, you can come to Fleet and Family and remain confidential.
Here are three key questions McCorvey and her trained staff encounter:
1) What if you are scared you'll be high and dry without his income?
Erica Schneider, Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, says the Navy has something called a Transitional Compensation Program. She explains that victims of domestic abuse/violence might be eligible to get money each month and to keep their medical insurance, Tricare, and access to the commissary for 12 to 36 months.
2) What if you're scared if you report the abuse that your military wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend will get kicked out of the Navy?
Schneider says, "We have a program for victims called Restrictive Reporting Option." The victim can make a confidential report and the commanding officer (CO) and the abuser will not be informed.
However, she warns, if the victim has told a friend or someone else, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.
3) How do you know if you're in a true abusive situation, especially in the beginning?
McCorvey says, "One shove against the wall. One slap on the face. One stroke to the neck...That is a real, red flag. We take that seriously."
And abuse doesn't always involve physical harm at first.
The staff at NAS has followed the case of Megan Hiatt, whose Navy boyfriend was verbally abusive, controlling, then turned violent. He shot and killed her baby twins and her father before killing himself. Megan wound up with seven bullets and almost died.
Megan's boyfriend was stationed at NAS. And he was outgoing and social, Megan says. She remembers how at restaurants he would "stroke my hair" and get her drinks and pamper her. Then at home, he would wake her up at 3 a.m. to scream at her, saying, "You're a f***ing waste of space. You're fat. You're ugly. How am I going to show you off?," she said.
Megan planned her escape from him, but, she says, she regrets taking time to pack. It gave him time to come home and go on his murder rampage. Now, she advises abuse victims not to pack up the TV or anything. Just take a change of clothes, documents, and a bit of money, if possible, Navy counselors recommend.
"If you are afraid to be where you are... If you are scared he will cause you harm, even if he's not hitting you...you need to leave. You need to go," Megan said.
Here are places to call, if you want help to make a plan to escape domestic abuse:
Fleet and Family Support Center NAS JAX 904-542-5378
Hubbard House -- Jacksonville's 24-Hour Hotline: 904-354-3314
Quigley House -- Clay County Hotline: 904-284-0061
All these resources can help you get out and restart your life with a career path and temporary housing.