But Anita is in love, within a year they get married. She takes her three children – then 7, 9 and 11 years old – with her. Jaap also has three children, all under four. They become a mixed family. The psychological violence is gradually building up. “It’s in very small things. For example, he could say, “Choose a candy.” And then later: “But I did not give you that at all.” And with everything you think: it’s my fault. He did the same with the kids. He made them confused and very addicted. I bought new sneakers for my daughter. Then he said, ‘Did you empty the dishwasher? New? Then you can only take them if you deserve them ‘. And then you might just never see your sneakers again. ”
The children were to ‘earn respect’ from Jaap. “He thought it was important. And then you just do it please† You only think: how do you keep a good mood at home? You are constantly walking on eggshells. How do I prevent my father or husband from getting angry? What should I say, what should I wear, how should I walk? ” When Anita and the children can not satisfy him, Jaap reacts with psychological violence. “At that time, the children were no longer allowed to go to a school party. As long as you did what he said, it was okay. If you did not do that, there was misery. “
Anita’s eldest daughter can no longer bear it after five years. She is sixteen when she leaves and lives with her father. She also breaks contact with Anita. As long as her mother remains in this situation, she wants no contact. Her brother decides to go with them, leaving Anita with her youngest daughter.
Meanwhile, Jaap makes his world smaller and smaller. “He never told me not to see my friends or family again. But he: ‘Do not you understand how your boyfriend behaves towards you? You do not mind. It’s not okay. You are always sad when you get home. ‘ Then you start thinking: maybe he’s right. You’ll believe it. ” And then Anita eventually does not see her parents and friends for years.
She looks forward to dinner every day. “With us, the food was a drama. You did not know how to behave, your chair was not allowed to touch the wall, you were to eat your food even if it was too much, and your spoon was not to touch your teeth. You are already tense before you sit down and make yourself as small and invisible as possible. ”
The turning point comes when Anita’s daughter develops anorexia and becomes very ill. The family is unstable and Jaap thinks it’s a good idea if help comes. “I was an unstable wreck. And because he called for help, the perpetrator was the victim. The social worker had no idea that all the misery was caused by the father.” But one day the rescuer arrives too early and she steps in during a quarrel. Then she sees not a helpless victim, but a very aggressive father. “She gave me a map from Safe Home. I googled and realized that this is a form for domestic violence. ”
The whole thing is still very confusing for Anita. “When you think of domestic violence, you think of a man who beats a woman. So if you are occasionally beaten, but primarily mentally abused, and someone says ‘this is domestic violence’, you think: no. For Jaap was also very sweet. It is attraction and repulsion. Today you are moving heaven and earth, and tomorrow you will be a selfish pussy bitch. “
At one point, Anita thinks: I can never make you happy, what I do is useless. “It was like a clear moment in my mind. This is no longer possible. My child will soon be gone and he will still not be happy.” She leaves and ends up in the women’s shelter without personal belongings. Her youngest daughter goes to her father, and Anita is forced to leave the stepchildren, whom she took care of for eleven years. “I had to give them up. It was a terrible but necessary step. I had to take care of myself first. ”
At the women’s shelter, Anita is slowly recovering. She becomes more and more aware of the situation she was in and that it was not healthy. “I had heart problems and stress, but gradually got stronger.” When she turns 48, Anita is still in the shelter. She fears it will be her worst birthday ever. But then her three children suddenly stand with a cake in front of them. ‘Then I saw my eldest daughter for the first time in years. She had said, “If you ever leave him, I’ll see you again.” And so it went. “
on the trip
After a year, Anita gets her life back on track. She gets a house from the municipality where she still lives. “The most important thing is that you cut off all contact with the perpetrator.”
And then she’s alone. After several years of mental abuse and a year at the women’s shelter, Anita is suddenly able to make her own choices again. “I used to do things that I wanted to but could never do before. I went out to travel. I came to live.”
After a while, the women’s shelter asks Anita to share her story. She does this in front of 350 students. Among them is one from the police who asked her to speak at a police conference. When Humberto Tan then calls her to attend a broadcast of late evening, Anita knows she’s found her calling: she’s becoming a public speaker and coach. That way she can make people aware: what are the signals, how do you recognize them and what should you do? In other words: “Making the taboo open to discussion.”
If Anita has learned one thing, it is that spectators must learn to help others without judging. “Does your gut feeling say: This is not right? Then do not say to that person: ‘Just walk away’. Because he or she does not. You must first acknowledge to yourself that you are in such a situation. So rather say, ‘I can see it’s not working and I want to be there for you’. Repeatedly. Domestic violence is a major social problem. We can all do something about it. No matter how small. “
Anita now sees her children again and she is the proud grandmother of three grandchildren. “They are a great blessing in my life. I’m so glad we’ve got a loving family again. I appreciate that.”
also readMiranda (38) was killed by partner violence: ‘If only we had only half known how bad it was’