People ask “Why does she stay?” I also told myself if a man ever raised his hand to me I’d be out the door immediately.

BUT, when you have two children, no money, and what seems like no options, you have to stay.

It took me years to leave. I endured verbal, mental, financial and physical abuse because I thought I had no choice.

When you’ve been told a million times you’re useless as a mother, wife and person in general, when you’re so beaten down that you doubt every move you make, how on earth can you possibly be making the right decision?

When you are paying half a bond, school fees, utilities, groceries, and barely making ends meet, while he pays a car and petrol and splurges on booze, and doing stuff to the house, how can you afford a house, car and petrol for yourself on top of it?

How can you rip your children from the only home they’ve ever known, and make them stay somewhere much smaller with no garden to play in?

Why doesn’t he leave? If you’re such a useless excuse for a human being, why does he stay? Why put himself through all that pain when he could be living in luxury with a sexy woman half your age that will do EVERYTHING he demands? Why doesn’t he just do as he says and kill you and put you out of your misery?

Being a victim of domestic abuse and leaving the abuser last year July, I am now very glad that I left. Best thing I did.

I still battle to make decisions in case they’re wrong. I am still terrified of him. To a certain degree, I still let him “control” me.

But I am one of the lucky ones. When he finally punched me in the face so I could no longer hide his beatings from the outside world, that made me admit what was happening. I had to tell my parents what was going on, and they immediately made space in their home, and their cupboards, for me and my boys.

After 23 years, I had to move back in with my parents. It was hell. But I’d made the decision, and I stuck with it.

They assisted financially, paying off my R65 000 debt I had accumulated over the years whilst trying to pay for everything, so he had his money that he worked so hard for.

They bought me a car, paid my deposit on a rental property so we could get back on our feet. They paid my rent every month, as I still have to pay half the bond on “his” place, as it’s in both our names.

They pay my legal fees, and still contribute to my rent and help with clothes and food for the boys.

It’s been rough on the kids, and I’d really like them to have counselling, but I have to have his permission to do so. He feels they’re boys, and boys don’t cry.

I found the worst experience after leaving was trying to get a protection order.

You need to take a day off work to get the interim order and you don’t get much help at the court. Also, trying to lay a charge of assault at the SAPS will cost you another day off work.

You have to get a medico-legal report completed by a doctor. The SAPS told me I had to do this at a State doctor, which I couldn’t find. Eventually I went to my GP who also couldn’t assist, but referred me to my nearest (private) hospital for an examination. Thank goodness they were willing to complete the report.

But then I opted not to lay the charge. (14 months later and still trying to get divorced, I wish I had). It took me almost 5 months to finalise the protection order.

I had to attend court 4 times, some days it was just postponed due to lack of magistrates, and not even my attorney told me what I’d have to go through in court.

It was a terrible experience. And then you realise a protection order isn’t a magic wand. You can’t wave it and he’ll disappear! Wishful thinking.

I believe my “future ex-husband” is a narcissist after researching on the internet. I think there are a lot of these type of men out there, but no one seems to know what this is.

I really wish there was some kind of support group on the internet, where you can remain anonymous, ask questions, advice, find out “how to...” and “what will happen”.

As I say, I am one of the lucky ones. I couldn’t have done it without my parents. I’d be sleeping on the street if it weren’t for them. But what about all those other women out there who’s parents are not in a position to assist? What about the ones who don’t live near their folks? What about the ones who don’t have parents?

Before people ask “Why does she stay?”, maybe spare a thought for the ones who don’t have a choice. 

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