A military spouse who says she fled a mentally and emotionally abusive marriage to a veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder is calling for more assistance for the families of troubled soldiers when they return home from the battlefield.

The woman, whose identity has been concealed for her protection, says her husband did tours in Afghanistan.

“When you’re in that situation you really don’t want to believe it to be abuse,” she said. “But when you hear it from your children, and they voice it out loud, and they tell you to run, it really makes it real.”

The woman claims her husband was never abusive during the many years they were married, but that changed when he came home from his time in Afghanistan a different man.

She says the stark similarities between her home life and the tragedy that unfolded in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., last week compelled her speak out on behalf of Canadian military families.

Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond and his wife Shanna were in counselling as the pair struggled to deal with his PTSD. He shot three members of his family, including 10-year-old daughter, and then himself in their home on Jan 3.

“When I heard her (Shanna Desmond’s) sister say that she had tried so hard, and the jealousy, the control, was exactly the same thing,” said the woman.

Her husband, she says, went to therapy and even spent time in the same military support unit as Desmond before being medically released.

She believes efforts by the medical community to involve family members in PTSD treatment will help those coping with the condition adjust more easily to life at home.

“Having contact with the family that are dealing with that member, because that member that’s in there is still going to present themselves as strong … just like they were over in Afghanistan,” she said.

Beyond that, she feels more needs to be done to heal the emotional and physical wounds inflicted by former soldiers on their loved ones. Once her divorce is finalized, she will lose the health benefits provided by Veterans Affairs. Medical expenses she says are a result of her husband’s PTSD, that she will soon have to cover out of her own pocket.

“I may not have gone overseas and done a tour physically, but I can honestly tell you, from speaking with other wives, our tour was at home, but our tour never ended when they came home.”

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell