" When you meet your antagonist do everything in a mild and agreeable manner.
Let your courage be as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword."
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
My youthful sprit was captured and restrained during a time in my life that was meant to be the unfolding of my youth.
George Orwell gives voice to the totalitarian mind in the novel 1984
"We are not content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject submission.
When you finally surrender to us, it must be of your own free will.
We do not destroy the heretic because she resists us; so long as she resists us we never destroy.
We convert her, we capture her inner mind, we reshape her, we turn all evil and all illusion out of her, we bring her over to our side, not in appearance but genuinely; heart and soul"
My foster fathers goal was the enslavement of me and he accomplished this by exercising despotic control over every aspect of my life.
His ultimate goal was the creation of a willing victim. Simple compliance rarely satisfied him as I had to prove complete obedience and loyalty by sacrificing all other relationships, he sought to isolate me from alternative sources of emotional support because as long as I maintained any other human connection his power was limited.
As I became isolated I became dependent on him, not only for survival but also for emotional sustenance. The more frightened I was the more I was tempted to cling to the one relationship that was permitted, and in the absence of any other viewpoint I entered the danger zone of seeing the world through his eyes.
The predator is contemptuous of those who try to understand him. He doesn't perceive that anything is wrong with him, so he, almost never seeks help. He is an authoritarian, secretive and sometimes grandiose and even paranoid. He is exquisitely sensitive to the realities of power and to social norms and he searches out situations where his tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned and even admired.
The church is often a good hiding place, his demeanor providing an excellent camouflage. Few people believe that extraordinary crimes can be committed by a man of such conventional appearance.
In 1978 my foster parents decided to move to the north of Pretoria to a little african town called Hammanskraal to join a missionary organization called Youth with a Mission.
My foster sister was nursing in Durban and my foster brother was in boarding school, it was just me and them cosily ensconced on a little farm off the missionary campus. This farm came with endless gates as they do, not that we had anything to keep in, mind you, but the gates nevertheless had to be kept closed at all times.
One particular saturday evening when both my foster sister and brother were home for the weekend my foster parents were attending a pray meeting. Glad of the respite for a couple of hours, we settled down for a quiet evening of a game of Risk.
Much later, after we'd gone to bed they arrived home late, discovering on the way that one of the gates had been left open.
I hadn't as yet fallen asleep, though I always slept lightly anyway, mentally always on guard. My foster father stormed into my room, banging open the door with such ferocity I thought it would come off its hinges. I quickly sat up in bed, clutching at my bed clothes. Seeing his face, contorted in rage and made even more twisted by the candlelight I searched my mind for possible errors that could invoke such anger in him.
I never had the chance to ask. He hauled me out of my bed by hair and punched me on the side of my face causing my nose to bleed. It was broken. As I hunched over, my arms crossed over my head to shield myself from more blows, cowering like a dog he pushed me to the floor and continuously kicked me in the stomach until I lay unconscious, a heap of brokenness on the floor.
Bystander apathy was the only help I got, unmoved my foster mother and foster brother stood by watching this display of uncontrollable rage, the dogs slunk away whimpering.
My foster sister took immediate action. Wrapping me up in a blanket she half dragged me to her VW Golf and we left.
For two days I was nursed, drugged and prayed for short of the sprinkling of holy water. I looked like someone had picked me up and snapped me in half draining all my energy and life force out. My stomach was bruised, I had a broken rib, my eyes were swollen and black and my nose broken.
When you are hurting deeply, you go inward, endorphins kick in, the body's natural morphine, carrying you somewhere far away where the pain can't find you. Oblivion.
I finally began to slowly mend. However I was admonished by the leaders of the missionary organization to seek his forgiveness since this was the spiritual thing to do for igniting his anger.
Have you any idea how hard it might be to ask for forgiveness from a man who has beaten you unconscious?
These " Christians" totally diminished the reality of the assault. They did not protect me or take me seriously, instead they convinced me I was to blame and I was put into the humiliating position of being manipulated into asking for forgiveness. Thus in my mind they colluded in my abuse.
And so, bruised, swollen -eyed, I left my bed in search of the spiritual hero who had been brainwashed to believe literally that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.
I found my foster father strutting arrogantly in the corridor, scratching his bum. I reached out towards him, mindful of which hand I took, and solemnly declared, " Please forgive me for causing you to be angry with me, I realize that this was my fault by leaving the gate open and that I deserved the punishment I received" Abruptly he pushed me aside, with no acknowledgement of my apology and left me standing there, humiliated and ashamed.
An outpouring of hatred towards this man became a tide and it now threatened to surge back against me. If his goal had been to crush my spirit then he had succeeded.
Its wrong to think that spectacular courage is the best bravery. The noblest bravery is battling against dreadful daily assaults on ones spirit, mind and body knowing there would be no rescue.
My foster father now had the endorsement of his church as long as appearances were maintained for the comfort of his "Christian society"
WHEN LIFE KICKS YOU IN THE GUT AND YOU ARE LEFT FEELING HELPLESS, BRUISED, HURTING AND WITH NO SUPPORT, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE TO EITHER GET UP OR LIE IN THE GUTTER IN SELF PITY. LIFE WILL KEEP MOVING FORWARD WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, AND SOMEHOW WHEN IN THIS PLACE WE HAVE TO DIG DEEP, VERY DEEP AND MOVE BEYOND COURAGE, BEYOND THE PAIN, BEYOND THE ANGER, BEYOND THE HATRED, AND TOUCH A DEPTH WITHIN OURSELVES WE HAVE NEVER REACHED BEFORE AND GET UP IN ALL OUR BROKENNESS AND KEEP MOVING REGARDLESS OF THE INTENSE INJURY. THERE IS SOMETHING WITHIN YOU, BELIEVE ME. I HAVE TOUCHED IT, HELD IT, FELT IT, EMBRACED IT, THAT YOU WILL NEED TO REACH TO COME THROUGH. BUT ONLY YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THAT CHOICE.
Love Mel xx
Love Mel xx