Tina Turner, Rihanna, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Whitney Houston, Charlize Theron, Nicole Simpson. What do all these insanely famous women successful in their own right have in common? Its not Gucci bags or Giuseppe shoes, its not millions of fans and social media followers. All these women and many more worldwide were at one point victims of domestic abuse. Hurt and seriously abused by their loved ones.
Its a myth that domestic violence happens only to poor women and to women of color. It happens to all women, even to the most beautiful and not just celebrities. It happens to people like you and me. I recently shocked my co-workers the other day while having a heated discussion over lunch when I confessed that I was in a very emotionally abusive relationship in my mid twenties. A relationship that dragged on beyond its expiry date for years. One of my friends was even like ‘but you are sooo pretty’. I chuckled. Well, simply because the folly of being a young and insecure woman who had struggled with self esteem for years is that you tend to take on crap. Tonnes and tonnes of it. You second guess yourself alot even though you are beautiful, you seek some validation or affirmation from the world and if you are not careful, the very person who affirms and
validates you is most often the most toxic to you. And when abuse happens, you tell yourself that if he hurts you in a way that no one else can, he must really
love you. Its sickening.
The facts on domestic violence are staggering…
– 2 women in the U.K are killed every week by a male partner, 3 in the world every day
– Every 9 seconds a woman is abused somewhere in the world
– 2 in every 4 women think that its their fault, not his, and that if I leave he won’t be loved by anyone else
– 4,774,000 women in the US experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year
– 2 million injuries and 1300 deaths are caused as a result of domestic violence
– 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime
Living legend Tina Turner opened up to Oprah about her very tumultuous marriage to Ike here (http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/oprahs-interview-with-tina-turner). Her abuse was so bad that a biopic was made from it ‘What’s love got to do with it’. Tina finally got out, with nothing but her name, and eventually worked her way up and is now happily married.
29 year old pop icon Rihanna was brutally assaulted in 2009 by her then boyfriend superstar Chris Brown, where Chris beat her up outside an industry award ceremony then left her injured and bleeding at the side of the road before driving off
One of the most beautiful women in the world and a phenomenal actress and Oscar winner Halle Berry confessed that the very ugly violence meted out on her, left her deaf and hard of hearing to date in her left ear.
Additionally, the most sensational spousal murder in the 20th century was that of Nicole Simpson. I recently read Kris Jenner’s memoir ‘Kris Jenner and all things Kardashian’ where she partially blames herself for not doing something about Nicole’s abuse by her husband O.J Simpson who was also a close friend. On the day of her death, Nicole had called up her best friend for several years, Kris, and asked to meet up over lunch as she had something to show and tell her it later turned out that she wanted to hand over a box filled up with photos of her mangled face documented each time that O.J hit her. Kris also confesses in the memoir that at one point, Nicole told her severally that ‘one day O.J will kill me and get away with it’.
In Africa, we woke up this week to a trending topic on social media saddening news that 28 year old Karabo Mokoena was kidnapped and murdered and her body burnt allegedly by her boyfriend. It was saddening, shocking and very upsetting news.
What then would make someone stay put in an abusive relationship or marriage for years you wonder? Perhaps it has largely to do with the fact that most victims regard domestic abuse as a taboo topic. No one wants their business know and put out for all and sundry. There is a certain shame and stigma that has to do with being abused regardless of how beautiful or successful you are. You suffer silently because you secretly feel like no one will believe you, like you are over reacting and that its not that serious. You smile and hold it all in because there are kids involved and bills to be paid. After all, he provides and he has never hurt the kids, and he is very apologetic and loves you still. You have several new and expensive gifts and flowers to show
to show the next day.
See all domestic abusers are masterclass manipulators. Narcissists. They placate you to silence you and call you ‘honey’ and ‘baby’ and tell you that they would be nothing without you. Then physically punch you until you are black and blue bruised all over. You probably don’t know the tell tale signs of a narcissist until you are crying on your bedroom floor hiding in shame. You live in anxiety and in fear, a constant state of panic wondering when the next attack will occur. You wonder what kind of a man needs to crush a woman in order to feel powerful. But what about the scars that people cannot see? He does not have to hit you for it to be abuse (as was my case). He can belittle, humiliate, curse, scorn, ridicule and disrespect and even control you – the true hallmark of emotional abuse. How then do you regain your self worth and terminate and distance yourself from the toxicity?
Speaking up and getting help. Take action to end domestic violence. Learn the signs, the facts and educate yourself and your loved ones. Talk to your loved ones and really listen.
Speaking up against the discrimination and stigma surrounding domestic violence is the only way to end it. Understand that we are all vulnerable. That men too can be abused not just women. Listen to survivors and their stories, encourage them to seek help, reassure them, be not just an encourager but go the extra mile. Empower and donate to organizations that support survivors to seek financial independence for them to be fully free of their abusers.
Do your part. Its time to end the silence.
***In memory of South African beauty Karabo Mokoena, may you find eternal peace. R.I.P. ***