She phoned me after her honeymoon and told me she’d fallen in the shower and broken her arm. I never liked her husband. I really couldn’t say why – he was just too dominant for my liking. I had my doubts about the chances of breaking your arm on your honeymoon but I badly wanted to believe her. I loved my best friend.
After a few months she couldn’t handle it any longer and told me about the violence in her marriage. But like most women in that situation she reassured me that she had the situation under control and our conversation always ended with her saying “but I love him”.
Months later I couldn’t cope anymore with the distress of the late-night calls I got when she was yet again stranded somewhere on her way back to her parents’ home. Each time I would think “at last”.
Eventually it turned into months and later years and I became overwhelmed by the effect of the helplessness on me and had to walk away. Later I was also excluded and the calls became fewer because she felt humiliated by the fact that she went back every time.
Years later she saw the light although she was still married to him when he died in a car accident, which may have been life’s way of liberating her.
We are in contact again but our friendship has suffered. She wants things to be as they were before. We were inseparable as friends but it’s difficult now because we’ve outgrown each other. The damage wasn’t only done to her arms or face but also to our friendship. These are some of the far-reaching consequences of violence to which we seldom give any thought.
Zelda la Grange, private secretary to ex-president Nelson Mandela, will be blogging for YOU during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. Sheworks with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and does motivational talks. She is also active with projects such as Bikers for Mandela Day and Sisters with Blisters in her role as patron for the 1st for Women Insurance Trust.