The Monsters Living Among Us

The Reveal

After a few months John was sent on a two-week NATO course at a training center just outside of Rome, about two hours’ driving time north. It was too far away for daily commuting. John told me he planned on driving their only car and returning home at the weekend. Linda would not have any direct transportation for the weekdays, two weeks in a row.

A Family-Man Monster

On the Tuesday morning after John left for training, Linda showed up at my office. She looked haggard, almost in tears. She sat down at my desk, holding her head not looking at me, and said “Ron, I need to talk to you. It’s very ugly. I don’t know who else to talk to.” I quickly secured a conference room, led her in and closed the door behind us. Linda sat down at the conference table, next to me, and took a deep breath.

Ron,” Linda said, “I don’t care if he beats me. But now he’s molesting my daughters, and I can’t accept that.

As I tried to get past my shock, words just tumbled off her lips. I gently questioned and got out of her that John routinely beat and abused her. Then on the previous Sunday, she caught John sexually molesting their eight-year-old. Now Linda wasn’t sure if John had already been molesting her thirteen-year-old, and even their three-year old. But she now thought he was, based on odd things she had already seen but hadn’t wanted to believe.

Having found the courage to open up to me, her stories about John just rolled out.

Specific Incidents

There were some things she said that clicked. Like, the time they came over for dinner and John claimed she had been drinking too much the previous night. The truth, Linda explained, was that John had been drinking and “went crazy.” He spent the night beating her and terrorizing their children. They were all afraid of John, so engaged in covering up what really happened when they visited us.

Another time, Linda said John came home from work with a Burger King meal – just for himself. He sat in the living room eating while Linda and their girls watched him. They had to scrounge dinner for themselves as there was very little food in the house. I remembered the time I took him through the Burger King drive-in, and his comment of “slap them around a bit“.

There were other specifics. Enough to believe Linda even though I didn’t want to. With her stories the physical isolation of where they were living now made sense.

After she rolled down, I needed time to think – not helping her was simply not one of my options. So, I suggested she hang out at the base shopping mall while I figured out what to do. Linda explained she had taken the military shuttle bus into the base, and I assured her I’d drive her home.

Taking Action

By this point in my NATO tour, I was well hooked into the DoD family support network. I decided the family advocate was the place to start. I made an appointment for Linda for the next morning but only touched on what the issue was. Then I collected Linda and drove her home, promising to pick her up and bring her to the morning appointment.

Not Impressed

The next morning, I brought Linda to her appointment, asking the female counselor to call me after her interview for our next steps. A couple of hours later she called me, seemingly shook. I told her I already knew what Linda had revealed to me and I was committed to helping. The counselor assured me she completely believed what Linda had told her. Then she asked me if I could find a way to get John into counseling with Linda. I responded, confused, with a “Huh?”

The counselor said “we need to find some way of getting John into a session with me and Linda. Confront him with his behavior and force him to show how he’s hurting his family.” Now I was really confused and beginning to feel angry. I asked if she was serious, and the counselor replied “yes. We need to confront John, force him to see how his actions are affecting his family. But we can’t tell him why he’s coming here. Can you find some way of tricking him into coming here?

Now I was angry. I responded with “So, you want me to trick John into coming into your office without knowing where or why. Then reveal Linda has talked to outsiders about him. Sure, that will work great. In your office he’ll see the light, repent, and promise to change. Then, as soon as he gets back home, he’ll beat the shit out of Linda, and she’ll be too terrified to ever again ask for help.

Forcing The Issue

I finished with “there’s only one way to deal with this. John needs to be reported to the authorities. He’s in the Air Force, so someone needs to contact the Air Force Chief Master Sergeant as a first step. As a licensed counselor, I’d prefer that you do this. But if you don’t, I will. In fact, I will call the Chief Master Sergeant in one hour, unless you call first.

The counselor didn’t sound happy. We talked a bit more, and she finally agreed to contact the Chief Master Sergeant. I knew him from previous dealings involving Air Force people that worked for me. So, just to be sure, I waited one hour then walked over to the Air Force personnel office. I found the Chief Master Sergeant walking back into his office, looking pissed. Really pissed. I asked “Chief, did the family advocate just call you?” He looked at me and slowly nodded his head. I nodded my head in acknowledgment and left.

While I drove Linda home that afternoon we talked. I assured her she was safe now. I promised her our military community did not tolerate what John was doing and would deal with him. She thanked me, I dropped her off and went home.

That Friday evening the military police were waiting for John when he returned home from training. He was arrested in front of his family, slapped in handcuffs, and hauled away.

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