The Monsters Living Among Us

Remembering

I’ve thought about Linda often in the years since. I dealt with a lot of ugly personnel issues during my NATO tour, but this ranked as the absolute ugliest.

Although John appeared normal on the surface I had tingles that something was wrong, and it still gnaws at me that I ignored my feelings. I’ve never forgotten my shock of hearing Linda say “I don’t care if he beats me. But now he’s molesting my daughters, and I can’t accept that.” I do maintain a feeling of pride that Linda trusted me, someone she’d only known for a few months, to help her.

Watching military lawyers protect an active-duty wife beater and child molester left me permanently cynical about lawyers. Cynical about The Law. And cynical about the military’s willingness to protect victimized women. My cynicism was compounded by seeing a civilian divorce lawyer cover up for that same child molester.

I also remember how a licensed family counselor thought she could change John’s behaviors by “confronting him” over beating his wife and molesting his daughters. Linda displayed an incredible amount of courage, and trust, to come to me and ask for help. And incredible courage to follow through with having John arrested. I wish her a good life with a man who loves her.

My Feelings of Failing Her

However, over all these years my gnawing guilt is that I failed Linda with my advice on her divorce papers. Linda never had even a shred of justice for the abuse she suffered. Her molested children never had a shred of justice. The terms of Linda’s divorce let a child molester go loose, completely unscathed, able to go forth and molest more children. My advice to Linda made me a part of that.

I now think I should have advised her to just tear up the papers. She had been married in the US but was not an American citizen. No one in Italy would have known if she married her Italian boyfriend while still legally married to John. It’s not like John would ever come back to Italy and hunt her down. Meanwhile, John’s marital status was a matter of record within the military system. His marital status within the military would have been “married” until after he filed divorce papers.

I do take solace in remembering that I forced that family counselor to turn John in. Despite the way events played out, I still feel that was the right thing to do. I want to believe that God Forbid I should ever again be faced with a similar situation, I would handle it just a little better.

The Monsters Among Us

The monster wasn’t just John, with his proclivity for beating women and molesting little girls. Every fucking person who protected him, excused his behavior, and enabled him to continue, were also monsters. And they live among us.

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