Military Sees Violence At Home

It's a facet of domestic violence that some feel is occurring at a totally unacceptable rate. CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that spousal abuse in the U.S. military is a very real problem, one that's starting to get some attention.

Like many victims, Lorrie Thompson had only been married to her abuser, Navy Petty Officer Ronald Thompson, for a short time when his attacks started.

"He started out with just the pushing and the shoving," she says. "He would pin me against the wall, and he would put his hands on my throat."

She never told anyone until the night she fell and hit her head against a wrought iron bed. It was then that she encountered a sympathetic Navy police officer while being treated at the hospital.

"He said 'Miss Thompson, everybody knows what's going on. We just need to hear it from you.'," she recalls. "And I told him everything. It just came spilling out of me."

Thompson's story details exactly the kind of domestic violence Adm. Archie Clemins, commander of the Pacific Fleet, calls a serious problem.

"Every day," Clemins writes in a message, "there is another report of rape, sexual assault or spousal abuse."

Last year, there were reports of 60 rapes, 60 sexual assaults, and more than 275 instances of domestic abuse in the Pacific Fleet, and that's better than it used to be. It's no wonder Clemins writes, "We have got to find a way to reduce this violence."

Ronald Thompson was arrested and charged with assaulting his wife. It's an action his first wife, Robin, says was long overdue.

"He's doing to her the exact things under the same circumstances that he did to me, but no one would believe me," she says. When Robin complained repeatedly to the Navy about the abuse, she says they treated her more like a perpetrator than a victim, asking "Well, how were you behaving? What were you doing at the time?"

She feels that, "They just didn't want to deal with it, it just wasn't their problem." But now the military is starting to do something about it.

In one new program, Marines are being taught to prevent both physical and mental abuse of women. Classes presume that while most men aren't abusive, they are also not likely to speak up when they see domestic violence happening to someone else.

Jackson Katz designed the program, and he says the Marine Corps is the first large institution in America to try this type of training.

"The key thing is silence, trying to break the silence," Katz says. "Because I go in with the presumption that most men are not abusive, but most men don't speak up in the face of other men's abuse.

"We talk this big talk - force and readiness, first to fight - and then we're willing to stand there and watch somebody get pummeled because we don't want to get involved," a female Marine said. "It's kind of hypocritical."

Ronal Thompson, by all accounts a first-rate sailor, pled guilty, served seven months in the brig, and was kicked out of the Navy. Fearing for her life, Lorrie Thompson has gone into a witness protection program.