We were in a restaurant with a group of friends – the anniversary of one of the couples. My wife was getting louder. She was laughing in a childish fashion over anything and everything. The ever full wineglass tilting slightly in her well manicured hand as she slurred a senseless arbitrary comment. No-one listened. All eyes were fixed on her provocative gypsy top which kept slipping off her shoulders in a revealing way. I knew what they were thinking and it was making me feel sick with shame and embarrassment.
I wondered how she’d become like this. The first few months of our marriage had been wonderful and I’d thought she was the perfect woman for me. They say that love blinds a person to their partner’s faults and it must be true. She drank heavily, swore foully, spent money lavishly and lived with great self indulgence. She was a stranger to me. Also, whenever I did anything that didn’t please her, she threatened me with Divorce Attorneys!
Watching her and our friends I wondered why I’d let myself to be persuaded by them to take her to a public place. The waiters were hovering around our table like vultures over a dead body. I thought that this must be how movie stars felt when they went out. The nightmare of public exposure – the paparazzi would never miss such a thing!
It was at that moment I realised I didn’t care anymore about keeping things a secret. Sure, I was incredibly embarrassed – as always – but this was nothing new. I’d just refused to acknowledge it. Like so many other people do, I’d used the ‘Ostrich Method’ – ignore it and it might go away. She was known for this type of behaviour amongst these friends of ours. They kept telling me to get a divorce. Even my family chanted ‘divorce, divorce’! But I couldn’t do it. Seeing a Divorce Attorney felt like betraying my wife and everything we’d ever had.
We all have those slow motion moments where we know something is happening but are helpless to do anything about it. I just sat there, in that split second, thinking that I would have to do something final about her. Just for that brief moment, it was like everything in the room had stopped as I realised our marriage had stopped. Everything came whooshing back to reality just in time for me to hear her tell everyone about our pathetic sex life. She just launched straight into exposing intimate details about us but altering them sufficiently to make me sound like a eunuch. The truth was that while she was like this I just didn’t find her desirable.
I made our excuses whilst our friends looked at me sympathetically and shook their heads in disgust at my wife as we left. It was an undignified departure as I almost had to drag my drunken wife away from the table and out of the venue. In the car, she was punching me as I drove and calling me filthy names; but I’d gotten used to this – I just hadn’t realised how low we’d sunk. Even as we parked in the driveway I knew she’d get inside and pour herself another drink. Sure enough, after garaging the car, I was just in time to see her pouring herself a glass of whisky. I told her to stop now; that she’d already made a fool of herself yet again. She threw the glass at me and a heavy crystal ashtray followed it, hitting me in the chest.
She was irrational and started screaming vulgarities at me. Suddenly our baby was crying and, despite we had a live-in Nanny, my wife started unsteadily up the stairs. Again I ran to stop her before she had an accident and fell, or further upset our baby daughter. She punched and kicked me so that I was the one who fell down the stairs, getting cut by the heavy chunks of broken glass and twisting my ankle. Irrationally at that moment the thought came into my head that I had to see my Divorce Attorneys in the morning or one of us might murder the other! I laughed inside and thought I’d probably gone mad.!
Ignoring the blood and pain I still managed to get to the nursery to find my wife using the cot to support herself while she dropped ash onto the baby’s blanket and swore at the Nanny. I limped in, apologised to the Nanny and asked her to stay with our baby girl. Then I tried to get my wife out of the room. She lunged at me punching and clawing my face. She was hysterical and I wasn’t sure I would manage. The Nanny - who had seen us in similar situations - helped me and finally she was passed out and snoring on her own side of our bed.
Not knowing what to do next but not being able to move, I called my Doctor. When he heard the situation he arrived at my house and kindly drove me to the clinic to have xrays and tests taken. I was a mess. I couldn’t see out of one eye; could barely breathe because of the heavy bruising of my chest; was bleeding from cuts on my forehead, face and hands; my wife had bitten me on my arm and I had a sprained ankle. I knew I’d reached the end – rock bottom as they say.
Needless to say, my Doctor had treated me for a variety of similar but lesser conditions over the last few years. Each time I’d refused to go to a clinic or hospital: this time I went gratefully. He was clearly aware of my marital circumstances and suggested I should consider doing something. Naturally he didn’t want to overstep his professional boundaries but said if not for my sake then for the child’s sake I should review my situation.
Hobbling, bruised, strapped and cut I went to see Martin Vermaak Attorneys Specialist Divorce Team and the very first thing they did was to get a Protection Order for me. I never knew it applied to men. It had never once occurred to me that husbands could get Protection Orders against their wives!
Naturally my wife denied everything but, with a little help from my friends – and the Nanny – the Protection Order was easily obtained.
Now I’m currently talking to my Specialist Divorce Attorneys about a divorce. Why am I telling you this? Because you can’t imagine the relief you feel when the abuse stops – or the happiness and joy you feel when encountering the reality of a new beginning!