Does it matter to you what way you die?
Have you ever thought about it?
Have you ever been faced with the possiblity of dying? in a car crash maybe, or an accident at work, or from a life threatening illness?
Or at the hands of a loved one?
Every time we open the news papers there is coverage somewhere of the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa.
Reeva Steenkamp died at the hands of her boyfriend, and in time when the trial concludes we will know if it was an accident or in a fit of rage. Last night I read transcripts of her text messages the weeks prior to her death and my blood ran cold.
Every time I hear or read about a woman found dead in ‘suspicious circumstances’ my blood runs cold. Has she been a victim of Domestic Violence is my first thought, and most of the time she has (for more precise statistics see Womens Aid website).
In other countries being murdered by gun shot is not unusual as guns are part of peoples lives. But in Ireland woman are murdered just as violently with their killers bare hands.
So does it matter how you die? or a friend of yours? or a family member?
Being in an abusive relationship is extremely hard. It is not just the physical violence (bruises heal) or the emotional abuse or any type of abuse, but the daily stress of ‘walking on eggshells’, being afraid to say anything that you think will annoy or provoke an abusive reaction from the other person. Or the stress you feel when you cannot figure out what you did do to ‘trigger’ the abuse, but you are still being blamed for it.
For a full 5 years I was not physically abused in my relationship, and I was reminded of it numerous times like it was a badge of honour. Yes, it was great the physical abuse (which was only a few occasions the first few years anyway) didn’t happen any more but the emotional and verbal abuse had continued.
Then one day I decided I would be brave and tell him I wasn’t happy with our marriage. He pushed me up against a door, his way of telling me that the only way our marriage was going to end was if he was physically violent, I could have no other reason.
That incident made me stronger and helped me realise there was something seriously wrong with our relationship and talking about it with each other wasn’t going to help. I had to talk to others about it.
We struggled to live with each other, in seperate bedrooms for the next couple of months, until that last day, the day before he moved out for good.
I was on my lunch break from work, and had called home for a bite to eat, and to see my two wee sons. During our lunch we started talking about our problems, and he boasted that he hadn’t drank alcohol for 6 weeks (which was great but too late to save our marriage) and how hard he was trying to cope with our mini seperation. The conversation started to go around in circles again, all about him (as it always did) and I got up from the kitchen table to leave, my lunch break was nearly over. He got up with me, telling me if we started sharing a bed again he would be able to put more effort into changing his ways or get some counselling.
I told him I couldn’t do that, it was too late, and I turned to face him saying ‘its over, our marriage is over’.
He saw red (as he said later) and with a fit of rage he put his hands around my neck pushing me backwards against the kitchen counter top and with force banged my head against the upper press. He squeezed my throat as I gagged for breath.
My eldest son (6 yrs) screamed ‘Daddy, Daddy’ as I gagged ‘the boys’. Both boys watched in horror at their father and mother in this violent embrace. It was over in seconds, he released his grip on me and retreated to the sitting room, slamming the door behind him.
I don’t know what stopped him, was it his sons screams? or his inner conscience?
What if he hadn’t stopped though?
And do you know what? even after all the years I knew him, I never thought him capable of actually killing me. Yes, I was afraid of his words, his temper, his false accusations, his drunken rows but the look in his eyes in that moment was of pure hatred and rage, and I knew then he was capable of anything.
I also realised that he was probably always capable of that level of violence, there are no half measures with people who are abusive. What can start off as a slap, years later can end up as being choked. That is why so many people end up in long term abusive relationships, because they find it so hard to get out of them.
Sometimes the abuse is at its very worst the moment you try to break it off.
If you are in an abusive relationship or someone has confided in you about their abusive relationship, then please keep talking! the best thing two of my friends did when I was going through my seperation was give me a spare key to their homes, just in case I needed to get away to somewhere quickly – it helped me feel so much safer. And they were always at the end of the phone.