Abuse (still I stayed…)

November 1, 2022 Visiting Blogger 1 comment
‘’If my girlfriend had cheated on me, I felt that it was a given that I would beat her up, and she’d allow me to because she was in the wrong.”

Hearing this in a conversation with an older man sent shivers down my spine, I was disgusted at the reality of how some black men grew up with the belief that they are superior to their female counterparts and that by a woman simply loving them, they were giving them the right to rule over them. 

This conversation continued with me asking how a man beating a woman felt in that moment and the explanation was pretty much rage. We spoke about how it would be so easy to kill someone in that moment and it ended off with us discussing the importance of raising our kids differently and talking about all these topics that have been taboo in our households, so our kids learn about it in our homes, and we don’t leave it to the world to teach them in one way or another.

My first experience of physical abuse was in my tertiary days at a graduation party. My boyfriend at the time was upset that I was breaking up with him and came to the party to find me, when he did, he greeted me with a smack on my back and dragged me into the car he was in. 

After driving aimlessly around the party spots and my friends calling to curse him out, demanding him to bring me back, he eventually did. When we got back, he found an angry crowd and all the gentlemen at the party were, very beautifully so, up in arms ready to hit him back and escort him out of the venue. 

I broke it off with him after that incident and I swore that I wouldn’t ever stay with someone who dared to lay their hand on me.

Sadly, I found myself in an abusive marriage. The first time my ex-husband hit me was when I had gone to Durban with a friend and came back later than he approved of. I was cuddling my baby after my friend left and I was met with several slaps to show his disapproval, I was shocked and cried after he left the room, but I soon carried on with life. 

Soon after, he developed a habit of leaving me and going to enjoy himself in Durban on most weekends. On a random night, in bed and with the lights off, I decided to address this and plead with him to stay home a little more on weekends and spend time with me and our baby. That request ended with me waking up with a red eye from the numerous hits I took while my request was belittled to nothing but overreacting. The worst thing for me was when I found myself having to lie to everyone who saw me the next day and were asking what had happened. 

I felt like everyone could see that I was lying and was whispering about it behind my back. I finally got the courage to tell a close friend about it and she did nothing much but consoled me with a hug which was enough. 

I continued to break the promise I had  made to myself earlier and stayed in the marriage. The next incident happened because of the same reason, and this was a Friday morning. My ex-husband had a bag packed for the weekend and I was asking him to come back home after work instead of going to Durban. He was not willing to do so, and my asking progressed to begging… 

I took his bag and hid it outside to prevent him from taking it and that resulted in me being shoved into the door as he demanded me to bring his bag back. He found the bag and threw it onto his backseat and as he was about to reverse out, I reached for the car door from the veranda and opened it to reach for the bag. In response to this, he reversed the car which led to the door hitting me against the pillar that was next to me. As I was in shock and pain, he pulled his door closed and reversed out.

Still I stayed…

Months later after he had convinced me to get a transfer and move back to Durban because he was bored and had no friends in the area, a friend of mine popped into the house where we were staying, and she was going to visit another friend of ours. I asked my husband at the time if I could go chill with my friends, he asked what time I’d be back, and I said about 21:00. I started cooking rice and mince and then asked the nanny to finish it off while I left because the hubby had already left to spend time with his friends and time wasn’t on my side. 

I came back a little later than 21:00. I had received a call earlier in the day from an old male friend which the hubby was still upset about. He also seemed to be upset by the fact that I had cooked mince and Lord knows whatever else and that night I saw rage… 

I felt the rage with every punch, every kick, every corner of the couch and every wall that my body felt impact from. I got a gap, and I ran as fast as I could, out the house and out the gate, as I was about to run down the road he caught onto my top and threatened to drag me on the road if I continued to run. I walked back home with him, and the crazy part began. 

I say crazy because the very same person who had been beating me up changes in a matter of seconds and says he is sorry and now hugs and comforts me. I slept it off and as we were about to carry on with life, we woke up to a hysterical nanny who was crying and asking to leave because she refused to stay in a home with violence. I think I felt ashamed, I felt ashamed because in that conversation the lady who was at least 20 years older than me was frantic saying she’s been married for years and had never experienced this in her marriage.

But, still I stayed…

The last straw was when I had an exciting plan of attending a night market with the hubby and our son. As I was home in the evening getting ready, the hubby was having drinks at the petrol station nearby with his friends. My calls to ask him to get home started annoying him and his reluctancy to get back so we could get going, started annoying me. We started arguing via text and when I realised that this wasn’t going to happen, I decided that I wanted to get something at a shop nearby. 

I found my cousin there and stopped to chat, which was round about the time that the hubby had finally decided to come home to me, and he stopped when he saw me parked on the road. He started arguing about what I was doing with his child on the road, and he quickly made it as though I was abusing his child by being with him there after dark. He took the child from my car and drove home. I followed him home and he let me drive in first and parked me in. 

I walked into the house, and he followed me in and picked a fight about why I was on the road with the kid. I obviously responded back telling him that he is making a big deal out of nothing because all he wants is to go drinking with his friends and none of what he had agreed to do with us. I don’t even know when, but I then became and the bad guy the punches soon commenced. 

I remember covering my face while being punched and kicked, there was a point in the bedroom when I looked up at his face as he was kicking me. What I saw resembled a person kicking a dog that had just bitten a child.

I saw that I was hatred, I saw anger and I saw rage, and in that moment, I believed he could kill me. All I could think of was my son and I got up and ran to look for him outside and found that he had locked him in his car, I shouted at him asking for my baby as I went back in the house. I started fighting back, I found a coat stand and I hit him with it, I ran into the kitchen and came back with a big knife in my hand thinking if someone dies today, it most definitely is not me… 

He was able to get it from me and I ran outside to try get my son once again and with no luck, I jumped into my car and locked myself in it. He tried to open the car with no success and seconds later, the same beast was apologetic and asking me to come inside so we can talk. I asked for my son, and he got him out the car. We put him in bed, and we sat in the lounge where he continued to apologise and profess his love to me. Just like every abusive event prior to this one, he would be singing sorry for a week or two, he’d get flowers, chocolates and do other romantic gestures. 

I had a scratch on my face after the last incident and had to lie once again every time someone noticed the scratch on my face and say the baby scratched me. I had to continue like nothing happened while my body felt like it had been hit by a truck. We have mirrors at the edges of the fridges at work and I remember having looked at myself in the mirror several times and feeling sorry for myself as I saw the pain in my own eyes. I’d move away from the mirror as I faced up to try draw back the tears. 

It took me about two weeks of thinking about the abuse and getting to a point where I knew this couldn’t possibly be a way to live. I knew that I wasn’t ready to leave my marriage, but I knew that if I continued to do what I did, I would get what I got – so I decided to move to my dad’s house for a few months. In that period, we attended marriage counselling and he attended anger management classes, and I’m happy to say it didn’t happen again. 

I think I was so desperate for my marriage to work that I would be easily manipulated by him to do the things he wanted even if I hadn’t even decided whether I agreed or not. He would manipulate me by telling me that it is an effort for us to work on our marriage and I’d always fall into whatever the change is, no matter how big or small because I was just happy that he was trying.

I later realised that the biggest problem was that I never allowed myself time to deal with how I felt after being beaten, I never asked myself how I felt and what it meant to me because as soon as he said sorry several times, I also just wanted things to go back to normal as soon as possible. 

How do I deal with the issue when I’m cuddling with my abuser? 

How do I logically deal with the issue when I am allowing him into the most intimate parts of me?  

I was lucky enough that we had a period where there was space between us because it’s only when we were living in different provinces that I had a chance to think about everything that my marriage had been so far and ask myself if it was what I wanted and if it was how I was willing to continue to live my life. The answer was a big NO. 

On my way to getting to that decision, I realised that I started being rebellious and no longer cared about how certain things were put to me because I became important, and not just making my marriage work. My happiness and well-being became a priority. 

I hope other woman and men find the strength to walk away when they are in a space where they are being abused because who is to say today won’t be the day it goes a little too far and a life is lost?

Sharon Prince


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1 Comment on “Abuse (still I stayed…)

  1. Once you experience an abuser and locks eyes with them and feel the hatred while they abuse you. It’s difficult to look at them the same way as your husband even if they said they are sorry a million times, I don’t think him attending therapy will change the way he looked at her in that instant. Abuse and love cannot come from the same person and be accepted as love.

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