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From survival to revival: overcoming abuse

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tylir Meyer
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – Autumn’s partner promised he would change. Each time it happened he made the promise again and Autumn wanted to believe him. However, time was never enough. Whether it was a day to a couple weeks, the abuse always came back. Autumn eventually gathered the strength and determination to reclaim control of her life. 

Autumn enlisted in the Air Force in 2021. With her newfound lease on life, Autumn was no longer subjected to the physical abuse. Though the physical separation was there, the harassment had yet to stop. With support from her friends, family and supervisors, she was able to overcome those obstacles and now enjoys her life to the fullest. 

“Having gone through domestic violence and getting out of that situation, I definitely learned a lot of things and I’m on path to a better life that I never even imagined for myself,” said Airman 1st Class Autumn Kohout, 18th Munitions Squadron precision guided missile scheduler. 

Now, Kohout is unbound by her past relationship. She wants others to know that they aren’t alone and know that while it may not be easy, they will be okay. 

“The Air Force has given me such a big family I never had before,” Kohout said. “My friends and coworkers are family, and I know they would do anything for me.” 

The domestic violence Kohout faced started when she was a dependent. She reached out to the Victim’s Advocate nearest to her and was provided the support she needed to get out of her situation.  

However, even though Kohout went to get help and her then-husband received punishment for his actions, she stayed with him.  

“It just goes to show how hard it is to get out of an abusive relationship, abusers are really good with manipulation. I felt like I couldn't lead a stable life – I couldn’t be alone or provide for myself,” Kohout said. 

When Kohout realized that nothing would change she took action again to regain control of her life and left to join the U.S. Air Force. 

“My parents are both Air Force so I grew up in a military family and I always wanted to join so I was like you know what, I'm gonna do this,” Kohout said. “I decided that it's my turn to take control of my life. After I had my son I thought I would never be able to join the military. But I'm really proud of myself for pulling myself out of that situation.” 

After graduating BMT and completing her technical training, Kohout made the journey across the world to her new home station here in Okinawa. There was only one more thing left for her to put everything behind her: she did not yet have full custody of her son. 

Though the process was daunting and stressful for Kohout, with the help and support of her leadership and coworkers, after one and a half years apart she was able to get all the paperwork approved to have her son rejoin her at Kadena. 

“It wasn't like re-joining fixed everything immediately,” said Kohout. “Getting my son over here was tough. I wasn’t able to talk to him at all. My ex-husband kept him from talking to me because he was mad. But I'm very lucky that I have very supportive supervision and they helped me a lot.” 

Despite Kohout being half a world away, a Victim’s Advocate from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, reached out to check up on her. This act left Kohout speechless. 

“Someone reached out and said, ‘Hey, I'm an advocate. Are you doing okay?,’ that's something I never knew spanned the whole military,” said Kohout. “It's all interconnected. And that made me feel really good about them checking in on victims and making sure that they're okay and taken care of.” 

Now, Kohout makes the best of her new lease on life. She motivates herself to maintain a positive outlook every day. 

“I try to practice gratitude every day, being grateful for the little and big things,” said Kohout. “I’m grateful for this job and opportunity to better myself. I’m grateful for living on a tropical island. And of course, I’m grateful for having my son here with me.” 

Kohout shared her story in the hopes of inspiring those who may be undergoing similar situations and are afraid to seek help.  

“Struggling is not a sign of failure — instead it’s a sign of successfully not giving up,” said Kohout. “We think of struggling as a negative thing. The important thing is never giving up. If you're getting up every day, and trying to make the best out of your situation, or helping others when you know deep down you're going through a lot, you're not failing.” 

Kohout stressed the importance of reaching out for help. Whether that be to someone you know, health care provider, chaplain or family advocacy, there are plenty of resources that will help. 

“If you feel like you’re going through or know someone going through an abusive relationship just know that this doesn't have to be your forever life," Kohout said. "Reach out to your support group and resources-- It's going to be a lot on your mind, but after you get through that then there's only up from there." 

Below is a list of resources to utilize if you or someone you know needs help combating domestic violence: 

• Call 911 if in immediate danger 

• Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate 24/7 at 070-1428-0987 

• Kadena Family Advocacy Program at 634-0433. 

• Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647 

• National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 

• Department of Defense Child Abuse Safety and Violation Hotline at 571-372-5348 

• Love is Respect at