I was used to him beating me. Usually over the least little thing that annoyed or irritated him I would get the flat of his hand or his fist. It could have been caused by something that happened at work; or by one of his friends; maybe the children annoyed him. It didn’t matter what it was, he always took his anger out on me so I always got punished.
He would lock me in the bedroom and I would spend hours sobbing my heart out and remembering how I’d watched the same thing happening with my own parents. In fact, when my husband and I were first going out we used to talk about how abusive our respective parents had been and we promised never to be like that in our marriage. That was a sick joke now.
Everyone knew about it of course. After years of making excuses to co-workers, and family about walking into cupboard doors and the kids playing rough with me – and other falsehoods that just sprung to mind – I had become a professional liar. He’d frightened all my friends away so at least there was no one else I had to deceive.
Most of my injuries I could cover with clothing. In the beginning, it was often remarked on in the summer that I should not wear so much clothing and I was constantly asked about how I could handle the heat and so on. I remember in those days I told people I was anaemic and constantly cold and they actually believed me. Cosmetics were never really successful with the cuts and bruises on the face; but after a period of being mislead, people were too polite or too bored with it all, to say anything. I’m sure that behind my back they would nudge or look at each other knowingly but eventually it was completely ignored. So, suffice to say that over the years everyone got used to me – the battered, bruised and abused wife.
Later everyone became embarrassed about me and impatient because it seemed that I was not doing anything about my situation. They all decided that I should get a divorce; they all thought I was crazy to tolerate such physical abuse. They’d all given up on me – I was the sympathy case in the office and a failure in the eyes of my family.
What they didn’t know was that over the years I’d been to several Attorneys to start proceedings against my husband but each time, he’d found out and beaten me to a pulp. For a long time I’d given up on myself and then I realised it was having an effect on our three children, so I began again.
Recently I went to Martin Vermaak Attorneys who are Specialist Divorce and Family Law Attorneys. I had so much confidence in them and the way they treated me that I actually applied for a Protection Order against my violent husband. Then a strange thing happened: once my husband realised I was serious enough to go through with the divorce, he moved out of the house and started to go for counselling. He went for his first session and came to the house with tears in his eyes. It was then that I knew he really wanted things to work.
The very next day, I called my Attorneys and told them to stop the Protection Order and the Divorce action, because I knew we were going to get back together again and that this time every would be alright. They quite strongly advised me against withdrawing my action and recommended that I should go through with the Protection Order. Of course I didn’t listen to them.
My husband getting help from a Clinical Psychologist consisted of only two sessions. His promise that things would be different was an empty gesture because things didn’t really change for long and within a few short months he was back to beating me senseless. I wasn’t surprised – I knew I was worthless and beyond hope.
Then something caught my attention and shocked me into action. I realised that my son was hitting my daughters. This was not done in a normal kids playing situation. He actually was spiteful towards them. In addition to punching them and nipping their skin so hard it made bruises, he also broke their toys and tried blackmailing them with threats.
If that wasn’t hard enough for me to absorb, the most difficult thing of all was that my daughters did nothing about it. Of course I heard them crying and complaining to each other but, when I asked them about it, they lied to me and covered up for their brother. Then, later, I would hear them consoling each other again. When I question my son about his bullying behaviour he lied to me at first and pretended innocence, but when I persisted, he said they made him do it because they didn’t obey him. In others words, to him it was reasonable behaviour in the circumstances.
I think that’s when I realised that my son would grow up and abuse his wife and my daughters would take abusive and bullying men for husbands. It was the example that my husband and I had so unthinkingly set for them. It was a classic case of dysfunctional role models with the children developing into carbon copies of their parents. There and then I realised I had to put a stop to it or my kids would grow up the same and so would their kids, and so on.
It was hard for me to go back to Martin Vermaak Attorneys’ Specialist Divorce people because I felt embarrassed after ignoring their advice; but, they were the only ones I felt I could trust to keep me together enough to get through my divorce. They welcomed me back, got straight down to business and made me feel glad that I had returned to them. Naturally my husband thought it would be like the last time and that he could dodge the inevitable but the divorce went through in spite of all his attempts to sabotage it.
My children are now going to a therapist who specialises in child counselling and they are so much better. They are more respectful towards each other and of themselves – although I still have to caution my son occasionally, it’s only been a few months so it’s still early days – and I can see they will be well adjusted soon