I once stood between a violent man and his girlfriend. He had been kicking her in the stomach and shouting about the child growing inside her. He clearly did not care about the child nor care he would put the mother in danger. No one seemed to hold him back. Myself and other neighbours just stood and watched.Only more from anger than courage, my cousin tried to pull the woman away from the man.
His diverted his ire to my cousin, whom he did not like very much.
I considered the couple my friends,having shared many meals with them. I even used to babysit the woman’s little boy from a previous relationship. I also sometimes played with the little boy while his mother’s boyfriend hogged the television. I am not sure if this is what made the boyfriend hesitate to assault me as he had just done to my cousin.
He stood towering over her while his girlfriend Vee was lying groaning on our floor. My anger gave me power, I pushed him away and warned him off and he went away immediately. Vee stopped us from going to the police and the clinic, this had become her way of life and she was used to it .
We lived right next door to this couple who had a multitude of unresolved and unsolvable issues it seemed to me. The man would even bring other women to the house in Vee’s absence. He was unemployed and seemed uninterested to change that. Vee brought home the bacon and he knew how to eat it well. .
The first time I threw Vee’s son in the air while playing with him, he went so stiff in my hands. He was petrified and unused to such. I then realised, not only was he neglected; he was facing his own abuse at the hands of the man he was being taught to call dad. I took advantage of the relationship I had formed with the boy and suggested they send him to school early since he had a keen mind. I also assumed company of other children would benefit him immensely. When he started school, I missed his company but I was so relieved he was no longer spending the day at home with his ‘step dad’ on days that I couldn’t babysit him.
I wondered at the little boy’s mother though. She had the means of taking care of herself and her son yet she stayed with this man who was not only abusing her but subliminally teaching her child that violence was how you treat a woman.
I would feel angry when the next day they would walk holding hands, acting like all was well. Clearly, she seemed to have made her choice to ignore evidence that pointed to the actions of a man who was not only sure of his position but took advantage of it to abuse Vee. Even the child minders she hired to look after her son would leave because of that man. They also found it hard to endure the abuse.
I was left wondering if the appearance of being happy was better than happiness itself? Is it better to be in a horrible relationship than to be single and happy? Between the two of them, was there anyone who had the interests of the little boy at heart? What was going through the woman’s mind or the man’s?
I later relocated, and I am glad to say that by the time I moved, the boy was now begging me to throw him in the air, he had become used to it, he loved it. Although I now lived a bit far from them, occasionally news about them had ways of getting to me. Even though she wass carrying his child, she still got hit, a lot. She continued to bring the bacon home with loyalty, and he gladly received it. But the question still remains, why did she stay? Like many others, Vee had found a way to endure the punching, kicking and insults. I assume she even became addicted to the abuse. Some women in her situation find solace in alcohol and drugs. They escape to dangerous comfort zones.
Some victims of abuse are so isolated from family and friends who are the essential support network. In Vee’s case, I never got to meet any of her friends. I only knew of her sister who tried to help out sometimes. Other victims fail to deal with low self-esteem and feel that only their abuser loves them. That is why they always go back.They cherish feelings of hope that the relationship can be salvaged, they rationalise that if there is no love then the man would not have stayed.
As an outsider looking in, with no such qualms about abuse, it is so easy to think the abused should just get up and leave. Abusers are actually mindful of all the outcomes of these situations, they will do everything they can to have power to be in the favourable position. For example, lack of financial independence has often been cited as the reason why some women stay in abusive relationships. The abuser would ensure he provides all the material needs and wants for the woman.However in Vee’s case it was something else that made her stay because she was the family provider.
After all is said and done, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, physical and psychologically. I still feel sad that I was unable to do more for Vee and she wasn’t able to open up to me. I think we both failed each other but I hope there is a happy ending for her in the near future.
Main image taken from www.buzzle.com