Every day we read of spouse abuse in the newspapers. I say spouse because these days it may be men also and not only the poor woman slaving away barefoot in the kitchen. In my time I have often dealt with it, first as a policeman and then as an attorney. Through the years I noted a few things which I want to share with you.
Firstly such action, abuse, cannot be done out of love or ever be condoned. Love plays no part in this and it is plain old cruelty between people who do not love each other anymore. It is logical to everyone except the parties involved that whatever love they once had is now gone forever. I say to you that probably the worst insult a woman can give to her man is to say "she is scared of him." You also have to wonder how they reached the stage where abuse take place and there are many types of abuse...it is not only physical. It may be money (withheld), snotty remarks, a lack of respect, drunk & loutish behaviour etc.
Some smart Alecs will tell you, seriously, that physical abuse is deserved at times. It is not. You are an idiot to say so. Oh yes, and it is easier to recover from as mental abuse. They are ridiculously wrong. Abuse is abuse and so it is. It does not matter really which form it takes. We live in a world where no one cares. You probably know about the shouts and arguments next door but you keep quiet. You probably noticed something wrong with the kid playing with yours and you keep quiet. I think that one day, when you stand in final judgement, you will regret that silence. And then you enjoy or associate by watching movies which portray violence against women and think it is cool. Hear my words, it is not. Fifty Shades of Filth for instance is not cool and not a normal life style either. It is crap which does not belong in a happy marriage.
It is thought-provoking to me how perceptions have changed for the worst in the last five years. These days you can open any respectable (as far as newspapers can be) website and guess what you find under the "health" section? Yes, borderline pornographic articles on what sex position is the best and a long discussion on things which really don't need to be discussed in public. If you have a problem with such things you are "old fashioned" and "prude" and obviously a "sour middle aged fellow." Well you know what, I am sorry but I will never agree that a casual sexual encounter is the way to go. As far as I am concerned that type of thing belongs inside a marriage or serous relationship leading up to marriage. And I am right as I have seen the consequences of casual sex so many times.
I wonder how many times I dealt with divorces where the couple had to get married because of the casual encounter. This is another myth by the way. There is no need to get married just because a child is on the way and the law does not prescribe to such action anyway. You will have the same rights as a divorced couple regarding the child and these days there are no more "red letters" for pregnant single women. Still, your reputation as an "easy girl" will now be established and you will find it very hard to get another man to accept you and your child. You may even lower your standards in the end (don't) to get a man.
It is sad but even the law admits that a woman with children is much less a proposition than one without "baggage." Why? Some men like the idea of an instant family but most don't if they are honest and alone. They don't really get it that the woman comes with her kids and they will always be important to her. On the other hand, most men know that the path to a woman's heart is via her kids. If you get them to like you, bribery may be used; she will like you a lot more than normal. So they abuse this in relationships. Yes, they do. We may be devious but we are not necessarily stupid in the short run.
The position of the kids too is interesting. If you listen to my favourite preacher, Angus Buchan, or read his books, you will note he places God, his wife, his children and then whatever else in ranking order. Yes, above the children comes the husband. Unfortunately this seldom happens in real life. I have seen this many times during divorce cases. The husband is left out because boetie (Afrikaans, son) has to go to this or that and at the end of the day mom and dad grows apart because the kid is first. The husband feels so neglected that he responds to the pretty secretary (she may be anything, just an example) who actually notices when he says something. And then I find him in my office wanting a divorce.
I often say no man is worth any tears but perhaps I should say that tears don't belong in a loving relationship. I often speak about the two rules of love as set out in my short book Better Men. That is, (1) never do anything to hurt the other one and (2) always do what is needed to keep the other one happy. In every single divorce or abuse (they often go hand in hand) we see they broke one or both rules regularly. It is sad because it shows selfishness and a lack of understanding what love is. It cannot be love, because once you love your soul you cannot hurt her, it is not possible and unthinkable. It cannot happen and if both feel like that you have a great marriage. Love is much more than sex, another point often forgotten.
People call me a romantic. Perhaps I am though I would deny it up to a point. But when it comes to divorce I used to say "this is serious, go home, kiss and make up and come back later." I am sure this cost me many clients but these days I don't say that. I say "you are grownups, if it does not work, make an end and get divorced. Do not stay together for the sake of the children...that will damage them even more and something the older generations tried without success. Once alone, it is a new beginning. Go and find your soul, don't be bitter because that what you had was not your soul as your soul cannot hurt you. Hence, let us sign here and here and pay the money so you live again."
I say the above with a heavy heart. I would give anything and everything to have my wife with me. To honour and love her for the wonderful woman she was in life, to comply fully with our two rules of love and to enjoy her company and superb brain at all times and to see the love and respect in her green eyes. It is only when you lose a soul to death that you realise the sanctity of a good marriage or deep relationship (leading to marriage or it is a waste of time and shows a lack of commitment). Truly, your wife is a gift from God. Do not waste such a gift with abuse. And one last word of advice, once an abuser is always an abuser. He will not change, leave him. Such a man is not worth a single tear.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.