*Names have been changed
When she was eight, Lindiwe complained to her teacher about regular and severe stomach pains, and a ‘sore heart’. On further questioning, she revealed to her teacher that her step-father was raping her. The teacher told Lindiwe’s mother, who beat Lindiwe when she got home, and accused her of lying.
In desperation, the teacher shared the story with the school principal, who called Operation Bobbi Bear. A Safety Officer met Lindiwe at school, and using Bobbi Bear, asked her to explain what had happened to her. Lindiwe drew on Bobbi Bear, and revealed that her step-father had been molesting her for many years, and in the last few months had begun raping her, and also molesting her younger sister. The Principal called in Lindiwe’s mother, who was horrified at what Bobbi Bear revealed, and truly repentant for not believing her little girl. Lindiwe and her mother laid charges against the stepfather, and sent Bobbi Bear in. Within 48 hours the police had picked up the stepfather who appeared in court.
Lindiwe, her mother, a friend and a teacher appeared at the court room, all carrying red Bobbi Bears. Two years on from this court case, the perpetrator was still behind bars, whilst Lindiwe and her sister had received care and counselling – (including pre-forensic examination and pre-trial counselling.) Says Lindiwe “Bobbi Bear made my mother believe me.”
A car door slammed shut. The dogs started barking wildly as a heavy steel gate was pushed open, and children’s voices came screaming down the stairs. Within moments, Jackie’s kitchen was filled with little bodies, followed by J*, holding her youngest daughter in her arms.
“Oh hi, Henri!” J* exclaimed above the din of her 6 children, “Are you back already? It’s really good to see you again…” Between meetings, phone calls, cups of coffee and visitations, Jackie’s kitchen had become a haven of community, comfort and support for many. “Want a cup of coffee?” asked Jackie, as she automatically rose to switch the kettle on again. The children disappeared as suddenly as they had arrived – some went to Lulu’s room to play with her dolls, others were in the lounge watching T.V., while others were running around the pool outside…
This place had become a familiar sight to J* and her children over the past nine months, and Auntie Jackie, a trusted friend.
“I thought you and your children would have emigrated to Germany by now!” I exclaimed, as J* and I hugged. We had met in October 2002. “There’s a German woman filing for divorce and fighting for the custody of her children,” Jackie had said, “Why don’t you go with Bill to visit her? You don’t have to counsel her – she just needs a lot of encouragement.
Tough case. But we’ll keep fighting for her…” And as Jackie had predicted, J* had been eager to share her story and opened up immediately – it had been good to use my German again!
J’s father had immigrated to South Africa as a missionary when J* was 13 years old. He had been invited to lead a church, but four years later, had been requested to leave on account of disagreement with the leadership. The church was report to display “sect-like” characteristics, e.g. church attendance is by invitation only (to keep out those with “contaminating spirits”); church leadership interviews new members, taking them step-by-step through the 10 commandments, and requiring of them to reveal every sin – leading to control, manipulation and lose of identity; the church authorises marriage, and if one leaves the church, one is “turning ones back on God”. If one does not conform, “God will punish you for working against Him”. If anything goes wrong in ones life, it is “because you have sinned and should confess and acknowledge your rebellion.”
J* started dating A*, her future husband, just before her family emigrated back to Germany, but a year later returned to South Africa. Three years later, J* married A*, and gave birth to her first child. J* and A* had agreed to have 6 children, but by the sixth birth, J* was physically weak. A* however, insisted they restrain from using contraception, as he feared, when he “got to heaven, God would ask him why he didn’t have another child”… The spiral of physical, emotional and verbal abuse started three years into their marriage, and although J* had sought assistance from police, her husband’s family and friends, she was left to “work out her marriage” herself. Finally, on June 6, 2002, literally fearing for the life of her children, J* fled with her children to Amanzimtoti, where she sought help and refugee at Operation Bobbi Bear. On numerous occasions, A* demanded J* phone a friend to say that “he is going to kill someone”, holding a gun to her head on three of those occasions.
A* was clinically assessed by two psychologists, and diagnosed by one as being “somewhat depressed. A* presents as a victim of the situation, and cannot understand why J* has done this, but believes that she must have snapped. A* is emotionally immature and dependant. Inconsistent.” The other psychologist assessed A* as “highly distressed and bewildered by the current circumstances. His primary focus at present seems to be to achieve a restoration of the previous status quo – his wife and children must return to the family home. He believes that the fact that the mother fled from home is indicative of her instability, rather than a reflection of the domestic situation. His lack of ability to reflect on his possible role in the current turmoil augurs poorly for future.
The father falls within the high-risk group for perpetrators of family murder. He also fulfils many of the criteria associated with perpetrators of domestic violence. Demographic characteristics of family murderers are associated with white, Afrikaans, highly religious, lower socio-economic individuals who do blue-collar work. From a personality perspective those most likely to perpetrate family violence are highly controlling individuals, with high external locus of control, who do not acknowledge stress factors in their lives, are suspicious and distrusting in their intimate relationships, and appear charming to others, expressing anger only in situation in which they are in power.