The PSY­CHOL­OGY ABUSE of

CLIN­I­CAL PSY­CHOL­O­GIST LEONARD CARR HAS CALLED OS­CAR’S RE­LA­TION­SHIP WITH REEVA‘HIGHLY CON­TROL­LING’. ANALYSING THEIR WHAT­SAPPS, HE BREAKS DOWN THE WARN­ING SIGNS

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CLOSE-UP - WORDS LEONARD CARR

peo­ple fall in love when some­one ap­pears to of­fer the long-awaited an­swer to their deep un­con­scious frus­tra­tions, needs and long­ings.You find some­one with whom you feel, within a mo­ment, a deep sense of fa­mil­iar­ity and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing. This is iron­i­cally of­ten ac­tu­ally a recog­ni­tion of a fa­mil­iar re­la­tion­ship pat­tern that goes back to early child­hood. For ex­am­ple, a child who is taught that if she for­goes her own needs to take care of her mother’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – ei­ther by be­ing Daddy’s lit­tle girl or look­ing after the other chil­dren, or both – she will be val­ued. This might be cou­pled with an im­plicit mes­sage that ex­press­ing her own needs makes her ‘de­mand­ing’ or ‘high main­te­nance’.

In an adult re­la­tion­ship, this dy­namic can re­play it­self. Although the ques­tion whether the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Os­car Pis­to­rius and Reeva Steenkamp was loving or abu­sive is best es­tab­lished by con­sid­er­ing all the facts emerg­ing at the 2014 mur­der trial, a limited in­ter­pre­ta­tion of their What­sapp mes­sages in 2013 high­lights cer­tain themes that re­cur in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships.

Through­out the mes­sages, there is no doubt who is do­ing all the emo­tional work in the re­la­tion­ship – tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for keep­ing it on track – as well as who was do­ing the suf­fer­ing. Reeva’s work takes the form of ex­plain­ing,apol­o­gis­ing,ap­peas­ing, jus­ti­fy­ing, re­as­sur­ing and almost beg­ging over in­nocu­ous every­day events like a friendly con­ver­sa­tion. She ex­plains why her other re­la­tion­ships are im­por­tant to her, fear­ing iso­la­tion from them, ei­ther be­cause Os­car did not ap­prove of them or be­cause in time she would be too hu­mil­i­ated by his be­hav­iour to ex­pose those peo­ple to them as a cou­ple. Such iso­la­tion gives a per­pe­tra­tor more power over the vic­tim’s sense of self.

An ini­tial pow­er­ful con­nec­tion can make peo­ple want to com­pul­sively hold onto the re­la­tion­ship and make it work in or­der to have the dream ful­filled.‘You make me happy 90% of the time and I think we are amaz­ing to­gether but I am not some other b***h you may know try­ing to kill your vibe,’ Reeva writes. No­tice how she refers to the dream of a good re­la­tion­ship and then both re­veals his mis­treat­ment and de­fends her re­quest to be treated with hon­our and re­spect. ‘I’m sorry if you truly felt I was hit­ting on my friend Sams hus­band and I’m sorry that u think that lit­tle of me.’

The mem­ory of that ini­tial at­trac­tion and the wish to have your needs ful­filled can lead you to ig­nore all the signs that the re­la­tion­ship is the op­po­site of what you want. Re­la­tion­ships never start out abu­sive and in fact ap­pear to be the op­po­site. The dy­nam­ics shift in­sid­i­ously and the very at­tributes that may have been the rea­son for at­trac­tion be­come the tools of abuse. At­ten­tive­ness and charm can turn into crit­i­cism and judg­ment. Pro­tec­tive­ness and con­cern can be­come con­trol and dom­i­na­tion. Ten­sion and drama can sub­sti­tute for loving en­gage­ment and healthy pas­sion. ‘I’m the girl who fell in love with u and wanted to tell u. But I’m also the girl that gets sidestepped when you are in a s**t mood. When I feel you think u have me so why try any­more.’

Ten­sion and drama can sub­sti­tute for deep loving en­gage­ment and healthy pas­sion

Os­car Pis­to­rius on trial in 2014 for the mur­der of girl­friend Reeva Steenkamp. Op­po­site Reeva and Os­car – ‘celebrity magic’.

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