Domestic violence and abuse in the home is a common talking point in South Africa. However, most of these conversations are centered on men as the abusers and not the victims, but that doesn’t mean that the tables aren’t sometimes turned.
Beautiful Monster, a page-turning memoir by Hout Bay resident Jay Badenhorst, highlights the plight of men enduring long-term mental health consequences when their dreams of a “forever love” turns into a nightmare.
Mr Badenhorst married his high school sweetheart in 2008 and it couldn’t have been more different than what he had hoped for. He documents his intimately harrowing experiences in a dysfunctional relationship, as his story takes the reader through all the major life decisions and challenges that normal young couples face; financial stability, career setbacks, becoming parents and in their case starting a life in a new country.
All of this unfolding against the dramatic backdrop of ongoing partner abuse.
Mr Badenhorst’s explicit chronicle of his relationship with the young woman he simultaneously loved while experiencing her as monstrous as she inflicts violence and struggles with addiction, sheds some light on the fact that most men battle to speak out if they are on the receiving end of abuse.
Despite physical injuries that were evident at the time to family, friends, and work colleagues Mr Badenhorst kept his traumatic experiences a secret, due to the guilt and the shame he felt.
“There is a stigma attached to the issue. A sense of shame overwhelms anyone who finds themselves in this kind of situation,” he said.
“Men often feel that no one will believe them, and even in the case that someone might, there is the fear of being ridiculed or seen as weak, and because people don’t talk about male spousal abuse, it seems to be even more unbelievable.”
Mr Badenhorst has had a rough journey; from surviving abuse, a divorce and ultimately his wife’s death— leaving him a single father. Years of battling such physical and emotional harm has left Mr Badenhorst struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
He explains that he has written Beautiful Monster, drawn on from his past journalling, as a cathartic part of his process of self-healing.
“A big part of putting my story out there, was so that I could heal. I wanted to purge myself of the secrets and the pain and shed light on a topic that is not often talked about,” he said.
“What I wish for those that read it, who might be experiencing something similar is that they see there is a way out. That they aren’t alone in their struggle.”
Through his writing process, Mr Badenhorst has found some of the catharsis he was seeking.
“I think perhaps I won’t ever get full closure. There are too many things left unfinished, unanswered, unsaid. But through Beautiful Monster, I suppose, I have found my own conclusion. My story is out there now, it’s no longer buried inside me, haunting me, eating me up. Maybe one day I can let go of it completely,” he explained.
Beautiful Monster is available as both a paperback and eBook on Amazon and Takealot.