Guest opinion: Reeva Steenkamp, one of many

By Rhode Marshall (@rhodemarshall)

I grew up in a community where that was the norm, but it wasn’t in my home. It was one of the many things I was sheltered from. Yet there I found myself possibly facing death. Many more incidents like this occurred. Not only have I been left with scars, but those close to me as well

This post was originally published on Marshall’s blog,  All I have to say, on the 16 February 2013.

The death of Reeva Steenkamp is one of those stories that punches you right in the stomach.

Reeva’s boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, has been charged with murder, following an incident at his house. Reports that he shot her left all of us in shock.

All I could think of was her family. What her parents are going through.

I was 18 years old, head-over-heels in love (so I thought at the time) and had to hide it because I knew that the people who love me would not approve.

You’d think that would ring alarm bells and that I would be concerned. Instead I went for the “they don’t understand” card and continued to dwell in denial about the person I allowed into my life, and into the lives of those who actually love me.

After continuously lying to my family about where I was going and who I was with, three months into the relationship I sat with a blue eye and bloody nose.

Hours of a gun being held to my head by a man who claimed that he was a fuck up and that we were both better off not living.

A gun in someone’s hand, their finger on the trigger and it being rubbed against your cheek while you call out to God to save you…

Then managing to get away, locking yourself in a bathroom, sleeping on the floor not understanding what or why.

I grew up in a community where that was the norm, but it wasn’t in my home. It was one of the many things I was sheltered from. Yet there I found myself possibly facing death.

Many more incidents like this occurred. Not only have I been left with scars, but those close to me as well.

Two years later, when my family finally found out who I was seeing my mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said ”I don’t want to get a call telling me to pickup your body on some street corner. You know what Elsa’s mom went through. What all of us went through.”

Elsa was my childhood friend who was shot in the head by the boyfriend everyone warned her about. The face of my late friend who was brutally attacked by this man haunts me to this day. He was never charged for her murder.

None of us know what happened in Oscar’s house.

All I know is that a young woman who loved him and who he claims to have loved is dead and that her family and friends have been robbed.

There are too many Reeva’s. Too many.

Today was one of many days I’ll close my eyes and be grateful that I live to see another day.

Rhode Marshall is the Project Manager and Entertainment Reporter at the Mail & Guardian online.

 

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