Three weeks ago, if had you visited Oscar Pistorius’ Wikipedia page, you would read about a hero. His story was a noble tale of overcoming the odds. Pistorius, a double-amputee athlete, participated in the world’s biggest athletic events (most notably the 2012 Summer Olympics) alongside “able-bodied” competitors.
Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia, a disease characterized by a “congenial absence of the fibula,” bones located in the lower extremity of the leg. At 11-months-old a large portion of his legs were amputated. Despite his physical limitations, Pistorius excelled at athletics inevitably gaining the nickname “the fastest man on no legs.”
This write-up reads like an obituary and in a way it is. Pistorius’ tale borrows many characteristics from the structure of a Greek tragedy. He is indeed a “tragic hero” and within this thought lies the clue as to why some people are so devastated that he committed this crime.
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.
When people fall prey to abusive relationships, it is often difficult for them to get out. When they do finally get out of the relationship, they often find themselves repeating this same pattern again and inevitably ending up in another abusive situation. For somone who has never been in this situation, it is difficult to understand why the abuse victim continues to live this way. Usually, the abused party will continue to play the role of the victim in this cycle of abuse until they have their “Tina Turner Moment.”
Ike and Tina Turner had one of the most widely publicized abusive relationships in entertainment history. Through over a decade of marriage, he abused her and other band members. When we think of their relationship, we often think of the physical abuse, the most difficult type of abuse for an abuser to hide as there are immediate physical scars and symptoms, but there was undoubtedly more to it than just physical abuse.
I was once victim to these circumstances. I had grown up with abuse and the pattern naturally took a role in my relationships when I began dating. Each boyfriend became progressively worse than the last. Until I met one guy who was everything the others weren’t. He was nice, polite, and gentle. He loved children and animals. Though this is who he portrayed himself to be, there was something empty about his actions, as if he was acting the role of this nice guy without emotions behind it. That was one of my first impressions of him; that he was pretending to be nice but was really a psychopath. I soon learned why they tell you to always follow your instincts.
My family and friends met and liked him. I confided to a few of them my fear that maybe he was just pretending to be nice and that he was truly a psychopath. Since I have a reputation for being overly cautious, they brushed my statement aside and cited that I was so used to being in bad relationships that I was scared that a nice guy was actually interested in me for once. Regardless of what they said, I still thought I might be right. I wasn’t yet strong enough to break out of this cycle or to listen to my inner voice, and of course, I wanted to buy what they were selling. Everyone wants that nice person to sweep them off their feet, to kiss their tears away, and to (insert other ridiculously overused love cliches here). Anyway, I wanted what everyone wanted: love, and here he was promising literally to be my knight in shining armor. I was incredibly vulnerable as I fell into this trap. I had just been ditched by another guy who I dated briefly, after confiding in him that I had survived rape.