Oscar and Reeva began dating in November 2012, just three short months before her death. An intense attraction, and an aura of celebrity, had rapidly propelled the new relationship. Despite clearly able to recognize the red flags of emotionally abusive relationships, such as put-downs, moodiness, irritability, false accusations, and frequent temper tantrums, Reeva tried to reason with Oscar, a common mistake of victims of emotional abuse.
If there is one thing women need to know about emotional abuse, it is that these types of men are not interested in resolving any problems in the relationship, rather they intentionally create the problems to keep you on your toes, trying even harder to earn "their love." In fact it probably just amuses them how you "walk on egg shells" to try not to "rock the boat," and at worst they get annoyed and irritated at your repeated attempts to "fix" the relationship.
Reeva was killed by Oscar on Valentine's Day 2013, though he claims he thought he shot an intruder behind the closed bathroom door.
One of Reeva's attempts at reasoning came in a text message on January 27th, 2013, where Reeva tried to explain how his crazy-making, abusive behavior was making her feel as he randomly accused her of flirting, which is a common tactic among narcissists:
I was not flirting with anyone today. I feel sick that you suggested that and that you made a scene at the table and made us leave early. I'm terribly disappointed in how the day ended and how you left me. We are living in a double standard relationship where you can be mad about how I deal with stuff when you are very quick to act cold and offish when you're unhappy. Every 5 seconds I hear how you dated another chick. You really have dated a lot of people yet you get upset if I mention ONE funny story with a long term boyfriend. I do everything to make you happy and to not say anything to rock the boat with u. You do everything to throw tantrums in front of people.
We excuse away a lot of controlling behavior in men as them just being macho, not realizing the extend to which these behaviors are so severely destructive. The confusing part of these types of relationships, which was the case for Reeva too, is that the victim thinks that the abuser wants a loving relationship, so they try to placate and reassure the abuser. The reality is far from that:
The abuser is trying to create this situation where his target is always on edge, always walking around on eggshells. What's better than the power rush from having someone so afraid of you and feeling like you control them and watching them dance around, trying to placate you while knowing that you can never be placated? That matters more to the abuser than the feelings of this person they supposedly love.
Sam Vaknin, author of 'Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited' says this about a narcissistic abuser's inability to love and how they emotionally abuse their victims: "Narcissists are unable to love in any true sense of the word - nor are they capable of developing any measure of intimacy. Lacking empathy, they are incapable of offering to the partner emotional sustenance........The abuser acts unpredictably, capriciously, inconsistently and irrationally. This serves to render others dependent upon the next twist and turn of the abuser, his next inexplicable whim, upon his next outburst, denial, or smile."
Here is where Reeva mentions feeling like she has to be careful not to upset him, how he scares her, and how he so easily can ignore her:
I do everything to make you happy and to not say anything to rock the boat with u. You do everything to throw tantrums in front of people.........I'm scared of you sometimes and how u snap at me and of how you will react to me.
I'm the girl who fell in love with u and wanted to tell u this weekend. But I'm also the girl that gets sidestepped when you are in a s**t mood. When I feel you think u have me so why try anymore.
His petty and hurtful criticisms over little things, just to exert control shows in this part of Reeva's text:
I get snapped at and told my accents and voices are annoying. I touch your neck to show u I care and you tell me to stop. Stop chewing gum. Do this don't do that. You don't want to hear stuff cut me off.
And one of his favorite tactics was to ruin special days for her, like one of her best friend's engagements that they had to leave early. Oscar may also have been jealous of Reeva's own popularity and success. The last part of the text shows that she knew they might not last:
From the outside I think it looks like we are a struggle and maybe that's what we are. I just want to love and be loved. Be happy and make someone SO happy. Maybe we can't do that for each other. Cos right now I know u aren't happy and I am certainly very unhappy and sad.
Too bad Reeva didn't just walk away from a toxic relationship with Oscar who seems to have all the traits of a narcissist. Trying to reason with a narcissist is a waste of breath, because it isn't love they want, it's power and control. Often times they are well aware of their abusive behavior, but that is exactly how they like it. We cannot teach them the value of real love. The only thing to do when you see the red flags is to walk away as soon as possible.
Safety rule #1 is to not let a narcissist know you are planning to break up until you are in a safe place. Emotional violence can and does escalate to physical violence. The time women are most vulnerable is during and shortly after they break up.
We know that Reeva was dressed (presumably to leave) at 3:00 AM, after they had been in bed. Was Oscar simply mad at her for locking herself in the bathroom, and not coming out? Or, did she tell him she was done with the relationship? We will never know. What we do know is they were having an argument before the shooting.