It’s entirely possible

I can’t help but be drawn into the Oscar Pistorius trial. It’s not only the fact that I’m a regular guest on the Oscar Trial Channel, so I have to pay attention to what’s going on. My timeline on Facebook and Twitter is filled with opinion. The channel shows in the reception areas of my clients. Every news broadcast is filled with his testimony in that gentle, halting voice, the one that occasionally dissolves into raw and wretched anguish.

How can this tearful, emotionally tortured man be the jerk in those messages, who bullied his girlfriend and prompted her to confess that she was sometimes a bit scared of him? How can such a sensitive soul also be capable of being a controlling and somewhat abusive partner?

Quite easily.

I was married to a man who was very sensitive, very emotional and very angry all at the same time. (“Afrikaners are very emotional people,” my British mother-in-law would say, nodding sagely.)

I was always In Trouble. I was always upsetting him. (I don’t blame him, by the way; I was messy, forgetful and occasionally inconsiderate and we were a horrible, horrible combination.) I was always being educated about the error of my ways. After the shouting, when the lecture was over, and my silence crept over the room and filled all the spaces between the molecules around us, he would calm down. Then he would say to me, in the wheedling voice of a small child: “Do you still love me?” And I would nod and say yes because yes was easier than anything else.

Every time I read those messages between Oscar and Reeva, or hear his testimony, I am reminded of the person I was when I was with him, and I panic again. I’m right back there, head bowed, waiting out the storm, the resentment setting in and hardening. The taste of metal is in my mouth and I want it to stop. Just. please. stop.

It’s entirely possible for Oscar to be sensitive and loving. It’s also entirely possible for him to be controlling and abusive. Entirely possible for Oscar to bawl his eyes out until he can barely breathe because the grief and remorse is so terrible. Also entirely possible for him to get so angry that he lashes out in rage without thinking. He can be all of these things at once. They are not contradictory at all.

Trust me, I know.



4 thoughts on “It’s entirely possible

  1. Liesbeth

    At the start of the trial the judge asked Gerrie Nel if Oscar was English speaking and Nel confirmed that he was indeed English speaking. So not Afrikaans? Maybe I heard wrong.

  2. pm1956

    OK, i have never experienced this–hopefully from either side.

    But you are not the first person i have heard this from. I have heard similar stories (thank goodness none of them ending in death) from friends. Clearly some people are simply sufficiently manipulative. Others are capable of convincing themselves that “A” and “Not A” can exist in the same time and place. It isn’t a question of logic, but rather of power and what one can get away with.

    Apparently if you are good enough to convince yourself that you are fine and everyone else around you is twisted, then you are also capable of convincing someone else that this is the case, of creating sufficient doubt in their minds that they will doubt themselves, and not you.

    I am sorry you had to go through that, but i am also glad that you are willing to share.

  3. Renè Moses

    I too experienced the “silent abuser”. In front of people he was the sweetest thing under the sun, but behind closed doors…? Constant criticism.(Arms crossed and finger pointing) Constantly being told how your best is not good enough.What I should say and how I should say it. I eventually found myself in a situation where I questioned who I was, and what I stood for.(would it be good enough for him?). I had a gun shoved in my face, I was chased by a car – threatened to be knocked over. He would smash up the house when he felt so. I became a nervous wreck. Until one day I decided enough was enough. How does one explain emotional abuse? How does one explain that you feel incompetent because of someone else? Today – 8 years later – I am stronger. I know who I am again, and most importantly I love myself again. I now believe that a women should not live in fear. She should be loved, respected and cherished. I now have a man who loves and respects me. No more fear …. just love.

    1. Sarah Britten Post author

      Thanks so much for your comments Rene. Your point about love rather than fear really resonates with me. My experience was nothing like as serious as yours – my ex never physically threatened me – but the fear remains.


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