What do Monopoly and Oscar Pistorius have in common? 

From Milton Bradley's popular game, Monopoly
From Milton Bradley’s popular game, Monopoly

Drilling four bullet holes into his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, wasn’t sufficient to convict Oscar Pistorius, famous South African, double amputee and Olympic runner, for murder.  His jail term on a manslaughter conviction, 5 years, meant spending only 12 months behind bars. He’ll serve the balance of his sentence under house arrest. Pistorius gets his Get Out of Jail (almost) Free card on October 20th.

Fortunately, the Prosecutor isn’t giving up. On November 3rd, a panel will re-evaluate whether the former superstar, model and gun-lover should have been charged with murder, which could put him back behind bars for a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Steenkamps’s death was not Pistorious’ only gun crime. He was also found guilty in a separate, non-related gun charge.

Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp

Steenkamp could be the poster child for “Betrayal Bond.”

She wasn’t just pretty; she was model pretty. And she wasn’t just smart; she was a law school graduate. A history of her phone messages revealed her commenting that Pistorius was jealous and overbearing, yet she remained.  She had a prior boyfriend who was emotionally abusive. A conversation with a cousin, shortly before her murder, gave the woman the sense that Steenkamp had concerns, but the details were never pursued.

She championed causes for other women and asked South Africans to wear black the day after Valentine’s to protest violence against women.  In South Africa, intimate femicide, murder by a relationship partner, is the leading cause of violent death for women. Was she trying to tell us something about her own situation? Ironically, she died on Valentine’s Day.

A hot-tempered history

Pistorius was not new to the police in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the couple lived. He was arrested for assault against a female in 2009. He was known by his colleagues as a hothead who carried a gun. He owned several, and he frequented ranges. He displayed raging and threatening public outbursts. Even his roommate at the London Olympics moved out because Pistorius continually shouted at people on the phone. Intimidation and rage were not uncommon Pistorius behaviors.

Contradictions to Pistorius’ claims

Witness accounts of the night of Steenkamp’s death reported the couple arguing, gun shots, a woman screaming, and more gun shots. Pistorius claimed that he feared that Steenkamp was an intruder, a burglar, and that he was protecting his home. He also told police that he’d been awoken and that he wasn’t wearing his prosthetic legs; although forensic evidence indicated that he, in fact, was wearing his limbs during the shooting and firing down at Steenkamp who crouched in the corner beside the toilet.

Why do women ignore the warning signs that shout “danger?” 

I believe that scientific studies on human bonding and brain chemistry, such as oxytocin, will bear out the addictive quality of romance and show why we justify and overlook the harm we experience. Simply put….. we’re wired to do so. And only when empirical evidence shows this phenomenon to be unequivocal, will society stop waving a criticizing finger and take steps to create understanding.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the callous death of Reeva Steenkamp, it’s that significant testing and scientific inquiry needs to be made about why we do the things we do when we’re in love, so we can figure out how to help people in toxic relationships break free and protect themselves.

Admin Note: Much of the information in this post was drawn from a Vanity Fair article, “The Shooting Star and the Model,”  written by Mark Seal. I recommend your reading it. It’s eye-opening!

 

 

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