With help, she left abu­sive hus­band

Go! & Express - - News - MADELEINE CHAPUT

WITH the es­ca­la­tion of vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren, and with it be­ing Women’s Month in South Africa, the GO! brings you a story of tri­umph over abuse.

Mthatha res­i­dent, Thumeka (not real name to pro­tect iden­tity) shares her story of re­silience and strength as she sought for sup­port and guid­ance from Masi­manyane Women’s Sup­port Cen­tre in East Lon­don.

“The abuse be­gan af­ter he [her hus­band] found a job for me. He started accusing me of cheat­ing on him with my co-work­ers.

“He would in­sult me and beat me up,” Thumeka said.

“One day he stran­gled me un­til I be­came un­con­scious and wet my­self, while my twoyear-old child was watch­ing.”

Thumeka would con­fess to be­ing un­faith­ful in an ef­fort to halt his abuse, as he would not stop un­til she ad­mit­ted to it.

Thumeka’s hus­band also con­trolled her fi­nances metic­u­lously, tak­ing her bank card, iden­tity doc­u­ment and SASSA grant card.

“I never had a say about my fi­nances, which I worked very hard for, as he con­trolled ev­ery­thing. I used to pack my bags and leave him, but he would apol­o­gise say­ing that he was just be­ing jeal­ous and we would rec­on­cile. I loved him,” Thumeka said.

Mo­ments of peace for Thumeka and her chil­dren were brief, and in­ter­ven­tion from fam­ily and friends did not calm or halt the abuse.

“Things got worse af­ter my ex-hus­band brought his child to stay with us.

“He be­came more ag­gres­sive and would in­sult my fam­ily, accusing us of witch­craft,” she said.

For six years Thumeka stayed with her hus­band, en­dur­ing phys­i­cal and emo­tional abuse on a daily ba­sis, but through the sup­port and coun­selling she re­ceived from Masi­manyane she was able to leave him. “I ended the re­la­tion­ship when I met a lady who told me about Masi­manyane Women’s Sup­port Cen­tre,” she added.

Thumeka went to home af­fairs and ap­plied for a tem­po­rary ID. “A coun­sel­lor from Masi­manyane’s satel­lite of­fice at the East Lon­don mag­is­trate court helped me com­plete the di­vorce forms. They ad­mit­ted me to a shel­ter, where a so­cial worker spoke to me and I re­alised I can get out of this re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

Hav­ing filed for a di­vorce, Thumeka is now hap­pily liv­ing with her two chil­dren with Masi­manyane’s sup­port as well as so­cial work­ers from Mthatha, who aided their tran­si­tion from the shel­ter back to Mthatha.

“I urge all women suf­fer­ing as I have to seek sup­port. If you are go­ing to talk to some­body, it has to be some­one who can help you.

“They have to know that abuse is never the vic­tim’s fault and that you can get out. You can and should have a bet­ter life,” Thumeka said.

“I am happy now. If the so­cial work­ers from Masi­manyane could see me to­day, they would not recog­nise me. I have im­proved so much,” Thumeka said.

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