Grace’s Story - Protection
We lived together. From different worlds poles apart; business commitments and social interests not remotely similar: we moved in together and gave each other a lot of space – just enjoying each other’s company when we could. We were monogamous but kept our own identities. I’d been married before; it had ended badly, and I was in no hurry to do it again.
One afternoon I couldn’t find a pair of expensive emerald earrings so I asked him if he knew where they were. I wanted to wear them that evening at the opening of an art gallery. He reacted oddly - said I didn’t trust him and was accusing him of theft. He slammed the door so hard it shook the windows and he angrily drove off in the new car I’d recently bought him. He returned an hour or so later with an attitude of how much it hurt him when we fought and how much I meant to him.
He worked in a recording studio and resented anything that wasn’t hip, denim, sneakers and Ts. He felt uncomfortable in the shirts, ties, suits and shoes I bought for him. He hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, didn’t like ‘those people’ and felt out of place. He felt he was doing me a favour by going because I was richer and older than he and mixed with similar people who made him feel inferior.
Over drinks, at the event that evening, he’d admired a woman’s bracelets and said he thought earrings were over-rated. He’d then proceeded to embarrass me by telling them I’d accusing him of stealing my earrings and made a joke about why anyone would pay a fortune for earrings. It wasn’t funny, there was an awkward silence, then one of the guys smoothly changed the subject to the price of gold and the moment passed.
I was hurt. I owned a successful company which I’d built from nothing. These were people I did business with on a regular basis. We had mutual respect and admiration which had been earned over the years. In the car going home I said he’d upset me and he thumped the steering wheel and shouted I should get out of the car and walk home. He’d pushed and punched me and I had to cover my bruises for a week or so. One of my friends said I should get him out of my life. She said he was dangerous and I needed a Protection Order against him. She said to go to an Attorney. We weren’t married so I didn’t understand her advice.
Looking back, it was the beginning of the end; but I didn’t want to see it. I never found the earrings. Other good pieces of jewellery disappeared over the next few months. We fought more often; he hit me; checked my phone; and embarrassed me in public. He became more introverted and secretive, and spent more time away from me. I started suspecting he was having an affair. When we were together there were often awkward silences so I finally asked what was wrong and why I didn’t see him anymore, please talk to me, let’s discuss this. He said OK, if I wanted to see more of him then he would fix that....and he did.
He started arriving at my company, making lots of short unplanned visits that would last 15 to 20 minutes and then unexpectedly leaving again. My staff liked him enormously and started looking oddly at me. I would pass through reception and find him telling our personal business to anyone who happened to be there, and always putting me in a bad light. One of my trusted Managers implied that he was flirting with some of the staff and I really should take it seriously and do something. She gave me the business card of Martin Vermaak Attorneys. I put the card in my desk drawer and forgot about it.
One night, I asked him not to visit my company anymore. He snapped that I didn’t know what I wanted: first I wanted to see more of him and now I didn’t. I should make up my mind. I said I didn’t like him telling lies about me and especially not to my staff. He was holding a glass of brandy and he threw it across the living room at the wall, slammed the front door hard again, and I sat listening to the screech of tyres in the driveway, while the brandy spilled down the wall.
My friends said throw him out. They’d always said he was a gold digger and would end up hurting me. One friend even suggested he should get counselling because of his serious mood swings: she suggested he could be ‘on drugs’.
Things got worse and eventually one night I asked him to move out. I said we needed to separate, get some time apart and try to work things out. He stared at me in shock and then threw his wine in my face and stormed outside. I stupidly followed him to try and make him see reason but when I touched his arm he pushed me away with such force I hit the ground hard. My best friend called but I told her I was busy and would get back to her. He then he accused me of having an affair. I tried to show him the caller’s ID to reassure him but as I got close to him to show him my phone he slapped me with full force across my face and went off to bed saying he would never leave, that I was stuck with him forever, and that I’d better start behaving myself and looking after him better.
My best friend arrived and told me I needed protection against him. She said she was taking me out for drinks. He’d already gone out with his guy friends so I agreed. This night she drove us to a bar we would never normally visit. We’d only just arrived and hadn’t even ordered when I spotted him. He had his back turned to me and was laughing and whispering in the ear of a young redhead. As we hastily left, I noticed her ears particularly well because my emerald earrings hung from them.
Next morning at the office, I took the business card from my desk drawer and phoned Attorneys. They assured me they handled these things regularly and there was nothing to be embarrassed about. They were right, because they told me about legal rights I never knew I had. They organised a Protection Order, he moved out and is history now. These days I don’t live in fear.