Samantha De Bono Counselling Bromley

Bromley & Harley Street

tel: 07588 931 401

email me

Enabling an Abusive Partner

by Samantha

The Reeva Steenkamp killing had a huge impact on the world for a variety of reasons, but none more so than the ladies I work with in my Monday morning group.

Every Monday I hold a group for women who are, or have been effected by Domestic Abuse. Each of these women know what it feels like to lose their sense of self, their self-esteem, their self-worth.

I don't profess to know anything about Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius' relationship personally, so I am speculating, but I do know how women can so easily get lost in the smoke screen that abusive partners put up.

Abusive partners often put out to the rest of the world a personality that is seen as nothing less than a Good Guy. Girls/women fall for the 'outside-world version' of this man, which makes it even harder for them to believe that the abuse is really happening, leading to loss of self belief and instead believing that somehow they cause the outbursts and that if they try harder, do better, do what they're told, don't answer back, look better, thinner, fatter, prettier, don't speak to other men, don't see their friends, don't challenge bad behaviour (the list of "what if" goes on and on) then their partner will "go back' to being the outside-world version of himself. As time goes on and the longer one stays in this type of relationship, the less they get the 'outside-world version' behind closed doors. After all, who wants to keep a mask on 24/7?

What it is so important to understand is, that this great guy, this hero, this life and soul of the party, this Mr Perfect can be an abuser! Yes! he is capable of showing the world what a great bloke he is, whilst losing his temper behind closed doors. Look at Oscar Pistorius. I think he has done what every one of my ladies partners have done and still do – he has quickly reapplied his 'outside-world' mask, and as he expected, the world is lapping it up. If Reeva Steenkamp were alive today, in my opinion, it is unlikely she would have told the truth about what went on in the early hours of Valentines Day because, like so many victims of Domestic Abuse, she would probably protect him and would be afraid to reveal the truth for fear of not being believed and of the ramifications later. The likelihood is, he would have made her believe that his fury was brought on by her and that if she had behaved differently, none of it would have happened in the first place.

Being on the receiving end of Domestic Abuse is like one of those dreams where you try to call out, but no sound comes from your mouth and the world is going about its business despite you desperately wanting to be heard in your panic. Not being heard and not being believed keeps so many people caught up in their abusive relationships.

If Reeva Steenkamp had not died that morning, it is probable that she, like all my lovely ladies, would have watched him walk outside that day and in his practised manner apply his mask and like I have heard more times that I can count, she probably would have thought "Phew! he's back to 'normal' now, I won't do anything to spoil today..."