I was at pains when l logged into my Facebook account on Thursday. My wall was full of notifications about the death of one Karabo Mokoena who was allegedly strangled and burnt by her boyfriend. She was such a beautiful person, at least from her social media photos and she sort of radiated confidence . What left me wondering was why would such a woman be strangled to death by her boyfriend. Not to say that there are kinds of women that I find justifiable if they are killed, but why do women stay in abusive relationships?
I have often asked myself this question, I have debated this question, until one day when my friend said to me …but chommy even you, you are in an abusive relationship. Honestly, I didn’t see it that way. Yes my boyfriend drank beer, occasionally but the occasions happened frequently, yes he was abusive to his friends when drunk, yes he threatened to hit me, Oh wait , he actually beat me , he didn’t allow me to go out, he went through my phone. I was afraid of him. But I didn’t know I was. I am a confident young woman but everyone around me could see the relationship was not working but I just loved him too much. I loved him more than I loved myself . Why I stayed for two years? I thought I could change him. I felt what he only needed was love and that I would lose nothing by loving him so l did, I loved him. I prayed to God, to change him for me. I prayed for him more than I prayed for anything else in my life.
To say I then gathered courage to move out of the relationship, would be to tell lies. He moved out when he got tired of my obedience. I thanked God; on my own I didn’t have the courage to do it. But wait I am studying law, I am a feminist and I love women’s law, it is my favourite course. Why did l stay even armed with the psychological know how of what abusive relationships constitute? I though I could change him.
While it will be wrong to paint the whole board with the same brush because every case is determined by its own circumstances, there are universal reasons why women stay in bad relationships. I would like to confirm that, according to my study, the abuse does not just become bad and deadly at once; it is gradual. Women stay being fully aware that they need to leave. Some of the reason include financial dependency, the need to stay married or in relationship and societal pressures.
I stopped taking relationship advice from my grandmother. Her plans and schemes, l feel like they are oppressive. If a man is abusive, Mchana, leave, life is too short and yes we will read about you on Facebook, we will analyze you and we will make you a statistic.
Women stay in abusive relationship for many reasons. In most cases, the abuser takes away your self-confidence and your sense of self respect. Once that happens you start feeling like no one else wants you or you start feeling blessed to be loved by this particular person. You spend days and nights twisting yourself into a shape that he will like and that will not happen. The greatest ability women and wives need to pray for is the ability and the empowerment to move on when your needs are no longer being served, no man is worth it, no husband is worth it, your children will benefit much more from a happy single mother than a married miserable, stressed and abused one. Just remember , before you are a girlfriend or a wife, you are your mother”s daughter; don’t ever lose that.