Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide but not guilty of murder. He could receive a suspended sentence and be free to abuse again, because Judge Masipa claims there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that Oscar knew Reeva was behind the locked bathroom door of his Pretoria, South African home on the even of Valentine’s Day 2013 when he blindly fired 4 shots through the door, murdering the young and vibrant Reeva.
As I scanned the endless verdict headlines this morning in disbelief, another Pistorius-related headline caught my eye:
In this brief article and video interview footage, Samantha Taylor, former girlfreind of Pistorius, describes incidents in which the paralympic athlete bit her, pinched her, and locked her in his home. She describes being so frightened following one of his rages that she hid his gun from him, the same gun he used to shoot and murder Reeva, out of fear for her life.
To me, this is chilling and reminiscent of my own degrading and fear-inducing treatment.
Although the boy in my story didn’t have a gun (at least not one that I knew existed), he bit and pinched me in public and private whenever it seemed he was losing control of me and/or I was exerting my independence.
In public, I would be sitting at a table of acquaintances talking about this or that, and suddenly he’d squeeze and sting my upper thigh or the back of my arm with an aggressive pinch.
I’d immediately react and jump mid-sentence, and those at the table would look at me like I was crazy and wonder, “What in the world?” But before I could get my bearings straight, the boy would quickly lean over and kiss me to further silence me while biting my lip. Once he released me, he’d whisper in my ear, “You are so beautiful.”
I was left shocked, stunned, frustrated and embarrassed.
In private, I would be sitting quietly reading, and the boy would sneak up behind me and bite my neck or shoulder and/or pinch my arm. I would immediately jump and tell him it hurt and to please not do that again. His reaction to me would be disdain.
He would say, “Oh, that didn’t hurt. You are so sensitive. You don’t like me touching you, do you? You don’t love me, do you?”
And then a rage would ensue.
He argued and tried to convince me that his bites and pinches were “love bites” and “love squeezes.” I didn’t know what to call them, because they hurt and left bruises but were immediately followed by his professions of love and idolization.
I was left so confused and wondering, “Maybe I am too sensitive and just need to lighten up a little.”
Today, I realize that these are tactics abusers use to control, intimidate and induce cognitive dissonance on their victims. It’s akin to training a dog with a shock collar, so they don’t go beyond the boundaries their invisible fence allows.
And, yes, I feared for my life before I left him, sleeping with a butter knife underneath my side of the mattress just in case he’d decide to wake me and fly into a rage. My fears were further validated a year after escaping when an ex-girlfriend of the boy contacted me and wrote, “I always feared that if I had married him, my life would become one of those Lifetime movies where the husband snaps and kills his wife for no apparent reason.”
The injustice of the Pistorius verdict is why we must not be afraid to share what happened to us and why our collective stories will one day be heeded and judges like Masipa presiding over trials like Pistorius’ won’t let killers walk free after an act of cold-blooded murder against one’s own spouse/significant other.
Consider picking up a copy of the recently released book by Samantha Taylor’s mother, Patricia, Oscar: An accident waiting to happen, which speaks to the athlete’s state of mind leading to Reeva’s murder. Chilling.
~Paula, author of Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath