I have enjoyed following Pistorius on Twitter since he rose to international fame in the London Olympics just last year. I thought he was good looking, charming in a mid-mannered way, resilient, determined, successful. I loved his profile picture that was taken with a child with little blades–a child bladerunner who was a quad-amputee. I talked to my personal trainer about Oscar, the amount of work it would take to compensate for the loss of one’s lower limbs and still rise to be a super-athlete.
Then this week’s bomb. I was in denial for half a day, unable to wrap my head around the carefully designed public image of Pistorius and the troubled private person. Now after several days of reading and thinking about this man, I think he is probably a violent control freak, now a criminal. Like many men who batter women, he has to absolutely control a woman who is his girlfriend. She stays with him because he is probably also unbelievably sweet and caring. A good-looking, famous, rich, talented man loves you. How can you leave him, just because he slaps you around from time to time, when you have probably provoked him in some way?
It is an insidious situation. It is a secret between the two. As a woman, you are ashamed. You almost can’t believe it, as you see the bruises. You wonder why he does this. After his violence, he is so sweet and contrite. He begs for forgiveness. He’ll never touch you again.
It doesn’t matter what acronyms follow your name. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. For women in this situation, you need to break the silence, start to admit to a friend that something is wrong, admit there’s a problem and learn how you can get out. Then do it. You need support; it’s hard to do it alone. Many years ago I told my therapist, a friend at work, and my sister. Along with my friend and my sister, we went to my apartment during lunch time and I packed my stuff. I got out.
Reeva was due to speak to schoolchildren about confidence on the day she was killed. Privately, she was struggling to find her own confidence in the face of a violent boyfriend. A boyfriend who was physically disabled yet had fought obstacles to rise in his profession, a boyfriend who had not overcome his own psychological disabilities. A boyfriend who appears to have chased and bruised her with a bat, who shot her as she sought refuge in a bathroom.
Do not accept physical or psychological violence in a relationship. He does not love you, he is troubled and needs help. You do too.