You wouldn’t stand for it if your man hits you. So why are more women putting up with hurtful words that are tantamount to verbal abuse?
Jane*, 35, knows first-hand how insults and scoldings can swiftly lead to blows, having endured nine years with an abusive husband. “Hank* was unemployed and always asked me for money to go partying. When I refused, he would break mirrors and slam doors,” says the administrator. He would also threaten her, saying: “Don’t make me slap you.” “I used to cry myself to sleep, thinking it was my fault for angering him,” says Jane.
Six months into their marriage, the violence turned physical. Hank started slapping and shoving Jane, even breaking her finger once.
In their fourth year of marriage, he lifted and flung her out of the window of their seventh-storey flat during a fight. “I landed on the ledge and managed to crawl back in. I was pregnant at the time and miscarried,” she recalls.
Yet she didn’t make a police report and continued staying with him, believing that divorce was shameful. She also feared that people would judge her for not trying to save her marriage.
The final straw came when a drunk Hank visited Jane’s parents’ home one night. “He woke my parents up at 3am and told them that our family was rubbish,” she says. This spurred her to finally divorce him.
Yet, Jane continues to bear the scars of her traumatic experience. She reveals: “Even now, a part of me wonders if I could have saved the marriage – could I have spoken to Hank in a nicer way? Been less rude?
“But then I snap out of it. No one deserves what I went through.”
“He said my duty was to give him sex”
“I got together with Larry* in 2009, after a string of bad relationships. I was craving affection and wanted to prove I could hold on to a man.
I guess my low self-esteem made me a perfect target for Larry’s manipulative ways. He constantly dictated how a ‘good woman’ should behave. We rarely went out – instead, he came to my house every other day, expecting me to cook for him. If I didn’t, he gave me the silent treatment or accused me of neglecting him.
He also demanded sex at least twice a day. We got into huge fights whenever I wasn’t in the mood. He often guilt-tripped me, saying: ‘What kind of girlfriend expects her boyfriend to masturbate?’
He hinted that if I didn’t please him, he would find other girls to ‘play with’ before dumping them. ‘If you hurt me, I have to hurt someone else,’ he’d say. It was all so tiring that I often just gave in.
He justified his actions by saying that good women submitted to their partners. ‘My mum always agreed to have sex with my dad. It’s a wife’s duty,’ he said. Once, he declared, ‘Wives are like whores for their men.’
I became pregnant in our second year of courtship and was terrified. His response: ‘It was your fault for seducing me.’ He refused to pay for the abortion, or even accompany me to the clinic.
Scarily enough, Larry convinced me that all this was normal in a relationship. When I wondered how my brother could treat his girlfriend with kindness, he jeered: ‘Your brother is a wimp. We have a more mature relationship.’ He also insisted that love was about accepting his flaws.
Oddly, the last straw came when I had a dream that we had broken up. In my dream, I felt overjoyed. But when I woke up, reality crashed. I was still trapped.
I immediately called him and demanded a break-up. He agreed reluctantly, but not without a parting shot: ‘Fine, I wanted to split up too.’
I used to believe that the only way I could get Larry’s love was to submit to him. But now I wish I’d called him out much earlier.” – Holly*, 27, editor
“Mum’s words broke his hold over me”
“I knew I was out of love by the second year of my relationship with John*. I had realised how toxic the relationship was.
Yet, fear locked me in for a year longer – I believed John was dangerous and would harm me if I dared leave. When our families met to discuss our engagement in our third year together, I was so cowed that I didn’t protest. I simply prayed: ‘If this is my fate, please protect me from John.’
I had already glimpsed his temper within the first few months of dating. He would call me on numerous occasions, raving about something trivial – how he had been offended by a passing remark my friend had made about my ex-boyfriend, or how I hadn’t been at home on a day he’d dropped by to surprise me. ‘I did something nice for you. Why weren’t you there?’ he had screamed.
Once, we were at his uncle’s funeral, and John became furious when he saw me talking to a friend, claiming I was not respecting his family. He told me to leave. As I left, he ran after me, yelling obscenities. I ignored the stares and hastily hopped into a cab.
I never imagined I could walk out of the relationship safely. John would slip threats into our conversations. Once, he said casually: ‘If you leave me, I’ll throw acid in your face.’ I became so scared of him that I would get heart palpitations whenever he called.
A few weeks after my engagement, my mother told me: ‘Do not let John rule your life.’ She had suspected something was wrong after overhearing the numerous tearful phone conversations I’d been having with John.
Her words were like the key out of the prison I had been in. I broke down and told her every thing. She was shocked but assured me that my family would stand behind me.
They did. My father called John to announce that the engagement was over. When John arrived at our house, demanding to see me, I stood my ground.
Every day after that, he called me, trying to persuade me to change my mind. He begged, shouted, and even threatened suicide. I never wavered. After a month, he gave up. Thanks to my family’s support, walking out on John turned out to be the easiest thing I’ve ever done. If you ever fear someone who is supposed to love you, listen to your gut. Walk away.” – Mary*, 40, lawyer
*Names have been changed.
This article is taken from herworldPLUS
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