The Look That Saved Her

I looked around me, blankly staring at the bright white sheet my hand rested upon. A throbbing pain shot through my eyes, my head, my face, my ears . . .

“Mevrou, kan U my hoor? U is onder polisie-wag vir die moord op Johannes Frederik Van der Merwe.” His deep voice like a hammer to my head, knocked me back into unconsciousness.

I don’t know for how long I was out. My memory was foggy, my injuries critical and my bruises sobering. I recall wondering why I felt such anxiety and loss. These emotions scared me as I came in and out of consciousness.

Two weeks later I found myself in an orange jumper suit behind bars, in Alberton prison, awaiting my bail hearing for a crime I struggled to remember at first. The details were so vague as I looked at the stained prison walls.

Now, it is as clear as daylight.

It was a week night, I returned home a bit later than usual due to an accident on the highway. He greeted me with such rage. “Waar de hel draai jy so lank!” There was no right response to this inquisition. I felt his eyes on my shirt buttons, as he spattered, “Jou jintoe, hoekom is jou boonste knopie los! Met wie was jy? Huh? Met WIE!”

The force of the first blow crashed me against the door frame. The second blow saw me flying over the kitchen table. I felt my ribs break as his steel toed boot came down on me. My ears ringing, my vision blurry.

“Gaan na jou kamer toe Anton!”

“Nee Pappa!” came the terrified voice of my 6-year-old son. Then my husband fell back against the wall, blood staining the front of his sweater.

There stood my Anton, his father’s service gun in hand. His eyes reflecting the horror of the events for which I am now awaiting prosecution. I remember the rasp of my voice as I called him over to me, taking the gun in hand while sheltering his eyes from the violence that will haunt him forever.

Today’s post is part of my “Thursday Title Challenge”. Thank you Jonelle, Tyranny of Pink, for participating and choosing today’s title.

Stop the Silence on Domestic Violence – contact Lifeline SA on 0800 150 150 for help.