Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp’s story is consistent with a typical abusive relationship. We will never know exactly what happened on Valentine’s Day in the home of Oscar Pistorius.
“Pistorius said in an affidavit read in court Tuesday that he and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and budding reality TV star, had gone to bed and that when he awoke during the night he detected what he thought was an intruder in the bathroom.”
This resonates with the dynamics of many abusive relationships in which outsiders rarely see any evidence that abuse has occurred. Ideally for Pistorius, the possible abuse and inevitable murder of Steenkamp would’ve gone unnoticed. But it didn’t. A witness heard screaming before the shots were fired.
Despite the account of the witness, Pistorius continues to play the role of innocent victim and garner sympathy from his supporters for the “accidental” shooting death of his girlfriend. His actions are an example of a pathological sociopath at his finest. How do I know? I went out with one and he almost killed me.
We were out of town for a wedding. We were staying overnight at a hotel when he lost his mind and entrapped me in our room. From behind, he picked me up and effortlessly threw me across the floor. With at least a hundred pounds on my frame, he held me down with ease. Cuffing my wrists in his hands, he repeatedly screamed into my face for me to shut up.
Terrified, I screamed. Angered by my lack of compliance, he threatened me, “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to break your teeth.” This only made me shout louder.
“No! I like my teeth!” I cried.
“Shut the fuck up!” he yelled.
But even when I did, when I did shut the fuck up, he continued to berate me by screaming into my face to shut the fuck up. Still pinning me down, I writhed underneath him and struggled to free my hands, but he was just too strong.
I am certain that to this day he still has many people fooled into thinking he is an upstanding citizen, some kind of boy scout. The similarities in personality traits between he and Pistorius are scary. Maybe there isn’t any evidence of Steenkamp being abused by Pistorius (prior to him shooting her three times and murdering her). Does there need to be? Abusers isolate.
Few had any idea that my boyfriend was a total psychopath, until that night. He even had me questioning my own judgement. Though I knew and felt like some of the things he did were cruel even abusive, I still wondered if I was being abused. None of my friends or family seemed to think so or believe me when I told them about some of the crazy stuff he had said and done to me. He had made such a great impression on them that they often took his side over mine. They even accused me of being too sensitive and overreacting. I cannot blame them for not standing up for me. He put on a good show.
Sociopaths abuse their victims in private. In pubic they put on their most charming persona (think Ted Bundy). When alone with their victim they actively participate in “crazy making.” The isolated victim starts to think something is wrong with herself. Though the victim suspects she is being abused there is often no “evidence” or witnesses to back up her claims. Often when the victim expresses tales of violent outbursts to friends it backfires. Rather than sympathize and protect the victim these friends invalidate her. It is not intentional. The abuser has set it up to be this way. He has stacked the deck against his victim from every direction. At this point in the relationship friends and family members of the victim will down play her tales of abuse. They say things like “you’re too sensitive” or “you’re overreacting.” Again, this invalidation is not their fault. They are just believing what they’ve seen: a wonderful, loving and compassionate person who treats their friend wonderfully (in public).
As a result the victim questions her own sanity. Am I overreacting? She then blames herself and makes excuses for the abuser because after all, it is all her fault. This is what her abuser wants her to think and when he snaps one day and maybe even murders her there will be little evidence to back up those claims. This lack of evidence and the fact that no one else has seen his violent temper will make it easy for him to make the death look accidental. It’s just the abuser’s dirty little secret. As long as society and the law let him get away with it he has committed the perfect crime and in Pistorius’ case has made himself out to be just another innocent victim in this situation. And the fact that he may end up serving his life in jail is just another reason to pity him. He didn’t know it was her in the bathroom. Right. He is a pathological liar.
Back to the hotel.
My heart nearly burst out of my chest when he put a pillow over my face, cutting off my air supply. My pulse raced in unison with my thoughts. With every passing second I thought about the daughter of my dry cleaner, who was murdered by her boyfriend in a similar scenario.
I had always assumed what happened to her was one of those things that only happens to other people… something that would never happen to me. It just did not seem plausible. Maybe it was just youthful ignorance, that feeling of immortality that eventually corrects itself with age and experience; as it undoubtedly corrected itself that night.
Those few seconds that passed felt more like minutes. Everything stopped in that moment. All I could think of was the phone call my family would be getting the next morning telling them that their daughter was found dead in the a hotel room somewhere in upstate New York.
Suddenly he let go of me. We stared at each other in shock. I do not think either one of us could believe what he had done.
“Do you know what you just did?” I demanded.
He began to get angry at me again. I calmly tried to talk him down, “How would your family feel. What would your mother think if she knew about what you just did to me?”
The guilt trip seemed to work. Though he still simmered, I was brazen and mouthy. I was angry. I pressed on about his family until I convinced him to free my arms.
“Okay,” he obliged. “I will let go of you if you promise not to go anywhere.”
I smiled reassuringly and nodded in agreement. As soon as he let go of me, I ran for the door, quickly yanking it open. So close behind me, with one seamless gesture he slammed it shut. Seething, he started to scream again and pushed me onto the ground. Like a prisoner, I leaned my head longingly against the only escape route, a solid metal door that he held shut.
There was no end to his rage. When would he stop? I wondered. We had come to New York to go to a wedding, Here I was in a beautiful gown, jewelery, and make-up. He wore a tuxedo and looked amazing.
How and why would someone transform what could have been a beautiful night into a nightmare? Weak both emotionally and physically, I just wanted to curl up into a ball. I no longer had the energy to fight, in fact I never had. He continued to scream into my face. I sunk farther and farther into the floor as he towered over me.
Then someone unexpectedly knocked on the door. I looked at him surprised.
“You better open it,” I said as they knocked again.
He slowly backed away from the door and allowed me enough space to stand up from the ground. I smoothed my dress as I rose. He composed himself.
The police did show up that night, six of them, but he had already fled the hotel, and I was too afraid to talk to them. Several members of the wedding party witnessed his rage that day, but they were distantly connected to the bride and groom. I think that the bride and groom are still friends with him and I doubt they believe anything that they may have heard about that night. If anything they probably found a way to blame me so they can remain in denial and continue their friendship with this total nut job. I can hardly blame them. Denial is a comfortable place. Would you want to acknowledge your choice of friends if one of them was nearly a cold blooded killer?
I see the same pathological sociopathy in Oscar Pistorius that I saw from that day on in my ex-boyfriend. They share the same “if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” attitude. People like Pistorius can continue their lies. I’m sure it helps him sleep at night. I wouldn’t doubt that he is in another way like my ex-boyfriend: that when you look into his eyes that there is little or even nothing behind them.