Service member domestic abuse victims don't always seek military help

SAN ANTONIO – When soldiers or their spouses are dealing with domestic violence and are looking for help, they don't always seek the available military services. Instead, they go through the Family Violence Prevention Services.

Roxanne Rodriguez, an abuse survivor, was married to a serviceman for 10 years until it became too much to handle.

"The fact that he was doing it in front of my child, it just got to the point where I needed to flee," she said.

She started to look for help through Lackland AFB, but realized that even though the military offered counseling, there were no free legal services for abuse survivors.

The military program Family Advocacy referred her to Family Violence Prevention Services, where she met attorney Nailya Fuller.

"A lot of times, victims prefer to go outside their military community to seek help because they did not want others to know, they did not want the command to know," Fuller said.

"When you flee from domestic violence, you want to flee entirely," Rodriguez said.

Fuller helps survivors like Rodriguez with divorces, child custody cases and protective orders, all for free.

A large part of her cases involve someone from a military family, some active-duty members, but mainly spouses.

READ: Help for domestic abuse victims

In 2015, the agency closed 301 legal cases. Fuller said at least 117 of them involved military families.

"The military community has probably been affected by the recent deployments, the wars and psychological disorders," Fuller said.

She said for that reason, it's important military bases partner with agencies like Family Violence Prevention Services, in order to offer the most options possible.

"There shouldn't be any shame or embarrassment affiliated with a situation like that. This is your life," Fuller said.

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