Today, I read that about 2500 women are murdered a year in South Africa, mostly by their intimate partners.
This is the story hundreds share...
Jane* doesn’t really remember the first time she was struck by a man. She must have just been three years old when her dad hit her for the first time, for having her elbows on the table while eating.
As she grew up, she was attracted to men with short tempers. They fascinated her. At first, watching them shout at car-guards or beggars was entertaining. But then, it became frightening.
When she and her first love, Dylan, went clubbing one night, she realized she was in love with a monster. She told Dylan about the cleaner who had taken cash out of her bag while they were dancing. His piercing blue eyes turned red with anger. He almost beat the cleaner to a pulp, when he was pulled off by a bouncer.
Jane can’t talk at first when I ask her how it ended. She fidgets with the rims of her skirt:
“I told him I was pregnant. That’s when I saw hatred in his eyes. He stuffed the morning-after pill into my mouth. No water. Just his dry fingers reaching as far as possible into my throat. I bit him then and he slapped me across the face.”
That night, Dylan took her out for dinner. He was completely different. He treated her perfectly, paid her compliments and placed a beautiful necklace around her neck.
It wasn’t the first time he had struck her for “inappropriate behaviour.” Four months into their dating, she went through his computer and found a list of girls he had slept with. There was a name after hers.
“I tried to hide it for two weeks, but the pain ate me up. I confronted him. At first, he pretended not to know what I was talking about. But then, I asked about each one, one by one. His voice changed. He became like a little boy filled with guilt. He hit me for invading his privacy. Then he apologised and even shed a few tears. I fell deeper for him then.”
The pattern of falling deeper for him the more he failed her continued for two and a half years. She stopped seeing her friends and stopped going to church.
She became his puppet. He told her how to dress, speak and act and she listened diligently:
“In a sick way, by losing my identity, I thought I was growing closer to him. He was untouchable. He was the most popular guy in our group and I, suddenly, was good enough to be his queen.”
Her hands tremble now as I ask her about the night that changed her life:
“His mother was visiting from overseas. She prepared him and his brother supper, but they never thanked her or showed any affection. I caught her crying quietly and told her: ‘Don’t worry. They love you.’
He was furious: ‘Those are forbidden words in my family! Don’t you ever intervene! You have no business telling her that!’
It was so absurd. He had never spoken to me in that way. He locked me outside on his balcony for two hours. I cried. I screamed. To no avail. After two hours in the cold, he opened the door and yelled: ‘Are you sorry yet?’
‘Sorry for what?’ I whimpered back. His hands tightened around my wrists, which he now placed behind my back. ‘Why don’t you jump?’ he said, while laughing. His hands caressed my neck and back, slowly pushing me to the edge. Believe me, I was tempted to do it. I looked at my life and realized I had nothing left to give.”
A few months later, Jane was in a mental institution, diagnosed with psychosis. Her brain couldn’t take any more abuse. Dylan came to visit her regularly with chocolates or flowers.
“You’re not very strong are you?” he hissed one night, as she lay sobbing on his chest. “I can’t be with someone who can’t get up again. Get up! I dare you!”
Jane was on so much medication that she couldn’t tell what was real or not anymore. She saw worms coming out of her veins. She saw animal faces upon everyone that visited her. She called Dylan to share her fears, but he stopped picking up. At times, he would just breathe into the phone.
Jane became more and more lost in her despair. She finally decided to commit suicide. She swallowed 22 pills on her 22nd birthday, for every year that she thought she was a burden.
Just in time, the doctors pumped her stomach. The white froth dried up around her lips was the only evidence she had gone to such desperate measures.
She never heard from Dylan again, until Valentine’s Day four months later: “I’m sorry. I need you. I want you back.”
Instead of falling for the voice she had become so accustomed to, she heard him as the conniving man her soul had once feared, but was now ready to fight. She was finally free. Detectives tried to find him, but he had already left the country.
After doing various investigations, they found out that a few of Dylan’s ex-girlfriends were in mental institutions and one had already committed suicide.
Jane stutters as she continues: “I was lucky enough to make it out in time. Somehow, I got my life back on track. He haunted my dreams for a while, but I refuse to give him any more power. I hope he reads this some day. But, people like that don’t have a heart or conscience. I refuse to ever sacrifice mine again.”
*name has been changed
Signs you are in an abusive, controlling relationship and it’s time to GET OUT:
- he refers to you as “Baby” or “Chick” and never by your first name (apparently it’s because he’s got someone on the side)
- he humiliates you in front of his friends
- he avoids kissing you on the lips
- you call him more than he calls you
- you guys are on/ off all the time
- he spits on your beliefs, friends you have and hobbies
- he creates havoc in your life: dumping you at the worst possible time
- he hacks into your Facebook profile
Signs you’re dealing with a Player
Signs you’ve got a Keeper
- he checks your friends out all the time
- he calls to say he misses the action
- he makes you feel small and inadequate
- he buys you expensive gifts
- his phone is on voicemail when you call
- he talks about himself 24/7
- he speaks about his exes in derogatory terms
- he spends time getting to know your body, saying you’re his favourite
- he checks you out all the time
- he calls to say he misses your voice
- he makes you feel magical and special
- he makes you sentimental gifts
- he picks up even when he’s busy
- he talks about you 24/7
- he speaks about his exes briefly, with respect
- he spends time getting to know your favourite things