It has been quite a big day in South African news, I guess. With the Pistorius case and all… But what really caught my attention was the headline “Advocate Barbie released on parole”. I am sure the feelings surrounding the Prinsloo/Visser case are more mixed than a fine blended daiquiri, but please allow me to add my dash of opinion in there:
Many people would argue that it is completely insane setting free* a woman who was found guilty and sentenced for seven years for 11 sex-related charges back in 2010. I disagree – wholeheartedly. Reading through all the related articles dating from 2007, it is clear that she was manipulated and abused by co-offender, Dirk Prinsloo. The opposing argument? Bullshit. How can a woman, a smart woman, it must be added, let herself go to such a low level to commit crimes like these? How could she not have turned to someone stronger than herself in aid of help?
Yes, I hear what you are saying and I do not – for one second – doubt that it did not occur to her, at least once, that she was on the wrong track. But have any of these anti-Advocate-Barbie crew members ever been so badly abused (I here not necessarily refer to physical/sexual abuse, I am also referring to verbal/emotional abuse) that after a while it does not matter anymore? That after constant abuse nothing emotional can penetrate the mind anymore and all arguments and beliefs go to waste? No? Well, educate yourselves then. Open your eyes and start talking to your neighbours. It happens more often than you are aware of.
In my lifetime, which is merely halfway through, if you consider the average age of a South African, I have come across more than two handfuls of women who have either been abused/molested as a child, raped as a teenager or mom or have been in abusive relationships (mentally, physically or sexually) and my heart has broken for every one of them. So don’t you dare give me your bullshit of how far manipulation can drive one. It goes a very, very long way. And the saddest part? There seems to be no help until all hell has broken loose.
If you refer to an article posted on News24, 2010-02-05, you would read the devastating story of another one of Prinsloo’s victims. Thankfully for her, she got out in time. I do apologise if I sound profoundly rude in the next sentence I am about to type, but it is your choice to read it: A guy has to be a pretty spectacular manipulator to get a woman to tattoo his face onto her fanny. Enough said, let’s leave it there. Read the article for more information. But the point is this: Some people are stronger than others, but after enough, we all break. This Anastasia-woman just had the strength to break away before breaking into pieces.
What makes this case emotionally worse to me is that Cezanne stood her (wo)man and faced her trial all alone. Bless her mom who has been supportive all the way, but I am referring to Prinsloo here. He took off and left her with the mess HE instigated. Luckily our puppy, Karma, travels quite a bit, and Prinsloo got arrested for robbing a bank. And then… after serving his thirteen year jail term in Belarus, he would hopefully serve another couple of decades in South Africa. It reminds me of a particular event when we were in high school. My parents went away for a weekend and we decided to have a little gathering. Nothing major compared to older ages if you look at the picture my mom took as evidence *rolls eyes*. But I do remember my partner in crime tried to dodge the punishment. I felt as if I was standing there, drinking flat readymix out of a watermelon that everyone else spat in. That is when I made up my mind: If you make trouble, you take trouble. Cezanne owned up to her mistakes, even though she was drinking flat readymix out of a soggy watermelon.
On the other hand: I do feel that if she admitted her guilt at the beginning of the case, while clearly stating that it was against her will, it would have been more substantial. Perhaps more human even? I don’t know. But I do hope, and I believe harder than I hope, that she will turn out for the better; that she will inspire all women to be strong enough to break out rather than break up. That she will share her experience with people who need to hear it and learn from it. And I pray that she will find strength to ask for forgiveness from the people she wronged, but even more so, to find forgiveness for herself to be able to move on and become the better.
*Parole is not freedom