MH22-06 Lara Sabanosh. CAGED.“Abuse within the military a silent epidemic”.

Mental Health Awareness with Sara Troy and her guest Lara Sabanosh, on-air from February 8th

Lara M. Sabanosh, author of the new memoir CAGED: The True Story of Abuse, Betrayal, and GTMO.  The wall of silence surrounding domestic abuse in the military and in the government is a high one. In her memoir, Lara talks about the secrecy, fear, and despair of being in an abusive relationship, and hopes her story can be used to change a faulted system.

A searing memoir from the widow of former Marine, Christopher Tur—setting the record straight and breaking through the military’s wall of silence surrounding domestic abuse 

On January 11, 2015, one day after being reported missing and three days after he was last seen by his family, Christopher Tur, a former Marine working as a civilian employee at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba, was found dead, floating in the water near the base. Over the months following his mysterious death, suspicion was cast on his widow, Lara, and the man exposed as her lover: the base’s commanding officer, Captain J.R. Nettleton.

In CAGED: The True Story of Abuse, Betrayal, and GTMO  Lara M. Sabanosh (formerly Lara Tur) speaks out about what really happened on that horrific night her husband disappeared—and throughout most of their nearly 20-year marriage—as well as her relationship with J.R. Nettleton. Writing from the perspective of both a victim and a victim advocate serving Navy families, she also makes an impassioned plea for change in the way domestic violence is handled within the military and government. “The civilian spouse, the government employee, is not a protected individual,” Sabanosh stresses. “Victims are punished in our current system.”

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Lara first met Chris Tur in the winter of 1994. At the time, she was a college sophomore and barely 19. A six-foot-tall Marine full of bravado, Chris swept her off her feet. In December 1995, they were married and she was pregnant. Early on, Lara dismissed the red flags—Chris’s cruel jokes, erratic actions, excessive partying, and strained relationship with his family. A dishonorable military discharge, DUIs, and job losses followed, along with rages of increasing intensity and mounting secrets and lies. In the winter of 2010, Chris shared an employment possibility overseas. After battling loneliness, depression, and fear, and with two daughters to raise, Lara jumped on board, hoping for a fresh start at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.           

In CAGED, Lara Sabanosh recounts how she came into her own at GTMO, finding work she loved and quickly rising to a director role at the Fleet and Family Support Center. With this new career and a newfound self-confidence, Lara found the confidence to face Chris and his outbursts while standing on her two feet, no longer cowering to the abusive tirades. It seemed like they might be able to stay together and live separate lives—until Chris became jealous of Lara’s friendships, particularly with the “CO,” Captain Nettleton. At age 39, Lara had endured two decades with an abusive spouse. Over the years, a number of people had witnessed Chris’s verbal, emotional, and physical abuse toward her. People had heard him call her ugly, stupid, lazy, and worse. People had seen him slap her in the face, slamming her fingers in doors, pulling her hair, and choking her. People had peered at the holes in their walls, pretended not to see her bruises, and listened to his excuses. What happened on the last night of Christopher Tur’s life was not all that different: no one responded when she asked for help. 

“Abuse within the military and government is a silent epidemic.” Sabanosh writes. “Domestic violence support should be available to all members of the military, government, and their dependents without the worry of reprisal, without having to fit into ‘someone’s’ quotas for criteria, without the worry of rank, and without issue about whom anyone works for. Program changes need to be made for the safety of those who sacrifice for our country… No one should wait to report abuse. No one should fear freedom. There should be no more cages.”

LARA M. SABANOSH spent much of her adult life as a wife, mother, and student, eventually completing two doctoral degrees. She is currently retired from government service, residing quietly in Pensacola, Florida, surrounded by her loving family, dogs, and grand puppies.