An open letter to my abused friend

With the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children upon us, one woman writes an open letter to her dear friend, who is caught in an abusive relationship.

Dear Siyathokoza*,

Please understand that I’m addressing this letter to you out of love and concern. I have never blamed you nor made you feel as if you are responsible for the way your life has turned out.

You and I have been just more than friends, we have become sisters and I can’t endure the pain of seeing you hurt. I hope you will find it in your heart to take what I am about to say to heart.

After learning of the appalling conduct of your partner towards you, I refuse to sit back and watch you giving yourself away to pain and suffering.

I know you think it is love, but it is more of an infatuation; love is kind and patient. The mention of his name brings excitement to you but the doubt lingering in your eyes is more obvious.

We hardly spend time together like we used to, before you met him. You could have fooled everyone else but not me. The fear that you carry with you is the reason you are still with him.

He went through your phone the other night and found out that you were chatting to a male friend. He’s made you choose between him and your social life. You’ve chose him, over and over again. He tried to change you but you resisted, until he laid a hand on you. You never told me that he beat you that night because you knew I would try to talk you out of staying with him.

I know about all the beatings, how he bashed you against the wall, threw you into furniture and strangled you until you begged for mercy. I know about the threats that he would kill you if you ever leave him. But being with him at all is a death wish in disguise.

You might not have any physical scars as yet, but anyone who knows you can tell that you are emotionally scarred.

16days social media cardThe people you told tried to warn you but you protected him and said he’d just lost control. I was shattered that you had no faith in me and decided not to tell me about it, but it wasn’t about me. I understand, because I am your friend.

I admire you for being able to talk about your relationship to your other friends, even if you couldn’t talk about it to me. So many women endure years of abuse and keep quiet about it until their partners kill them. I don’t want you to become a statistic of intimate partner violence, so I am reaching out to you.

I asked you if everything was okay but you made it a joke and laughed about it, although I knew you weren’t laughing from your heart. I’ve looked you in the eye and begged you to leave him but you’ve told me it isn’t that easy.

“He does all these things because he is madly in love with me, I just need to be honest with him and everything will fall into place. I’m not leaving him,” you said.

With everything you’ve been through over the years, I can’t blame you for being so desperate for love. You deserve to be loved but in this instance, what you need is self-love.

His behaviour is not your fault. You are not the reason he beats you.

Yes, he apologises each time he beats you but how long will this cycle of abuse and apology go on? When will it end?

If you don’t take it upon yourself to end this relationship, how will it end?

You’ve joked about how he will kill you one day. We all laughed about it but deep inside we all knew that joke could become reality.

Chances are, he will kill you. How will I live with myself knowing that I could have done something to help you out of this hell?

Just say the word, and I’ll be there, every step of the way. You are not alone.

If you are in an abusive relationship and want to speak to someone about it, call LifeLine’s Stop Gender Violence Helpline on 0800 150 150.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Names have been changed to protect those involved.

– Featured image via Daniela Brown on Flickr