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16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

"I" Stories: Healing body and soul

Germina Setshedi

2008-12-03, Issue 410

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/16days/52396

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I am a mother of 4 children. I was staying together with them and my husband. My husband was jealous, and as for me I did not have any suspicions about him. He was cruel and I did not realise that at the time. He used to beat me up for nothing but I was not aware, I sometimes wondered if I was born to suffer.

I am a mother of 4 children. I was staying together with them and my husband. My husband was jealous, and as for me I did not have any suspicions about him. He was cruel and I did not realise that at the time. He used to beat me up for nothing but I was not aware, I sometimes wondered if I was born to suffer.

I cried everyday, I prayed for years asking God to change my life for the better. Instead, my problems were getting worse everyday. I had given up on having any chance of happiness with my husband. Sometimes he would strangle me and I would wake up crying, and he would tell me to stop making noise. I tried to talk to him many times, about how his behaviour made me feel inadequate and unhappy but that still caused a big fight between us.

The violence continued for a long time until in September 1996. On Sunday 7 September 1996, two days after a car knocked down my son and he was admitted to hospital with a head injury, I was preparing to go to the society. My husband was not around. When I was about to leave, he came back and found me wearing my uniform. He came in and locked the door, swearing and pointing at me with his fingers in my eyes.

When we where arguing, I was so scared because I was afraid of him. He started pushing me. He pushed me until he threw me out of the window. It was from the 4th floor to the ground. Both my legs and my spine were broken. I spent three months in a General Hospital sleeping.

When I came out of the hospital, I opened a case against him but nothing was done because my husband was friends with one of the officers. I was staying with my younger sister and he kept on phoning, telling me to come back home. I was using crutches and could not walk perfectly or move my body because the plasters were so heavy.

When I was still staying at my sisters, he would come knowing that my sister is at work and the children are at school, obviously, I would be alone. He would kick the door roughly and just open the door. He would tell me that he wants me home as soon as possible. All that I could do that time was to sit and cry.

Within a short period, I moved back home to my husband. Oh…oh…oh…God, after three days he had started swearing and pointing me again. Remember that by that time I could not walk fast, I was still on crutches. That was the beginning of the end. One day he hit me with a hammer on my head. I was bleeding so badly and that was a good chance to get him arrested.

With the help of my neighbours, the police where called and I told them what happened to me. They arrested him, I was able to open a case, and he went to Sun City prison. He was on trial for three months and in the following months he went to court. He then asked me for forgiveness, I forgave him. After the courts, he never slept at home but would arrive the next day. We did not speak to one another, it was very hard for me because the kids where at school and I would be alone in the house. I trusted in God and prayed all the time. I would say this” God help me because this man is going to kill me.”

Nothing changed; I stayed in that horrible life. He started not to eat at home, coming home late and sometimes not coming at all. Life in that house was that way until he decided to leave the house. He packed all his belonging and left. When I thought it was over at last, he went to the police and opened a case against me. He said that I had chased him away. The police told him to go to family violence and open a case there, because they believed that he was lying. His case ended nowhere.

Now I have realised that he is in love with my neighbour’s daughter and they have a baby boy. But I don’t care and I haven’t said anything till today. I just kept quiet. He is suffering and wants to come back home, unfortunately, he does not have the space in my house anymore. That took me back to my mother’s words before she died, “what are you doing with that hooligan, a thug and a monster.” My mother did not like him at all but because they knew that I loved him they accepted him.

As for now he does not even a have a place to put his head down and he wants me to assist him but I won’t. I had a choice to stop the cycle of abuse, a privilege that some women in my position do not have. I was empowered and became fully aware of my rights as a woman, a person and a citizen. I knew all the steps I could take to report domestic violence in my community, but distanced myself from this practice and suffered in silence.

I did not tell anybody about my husband who was abusive. I now advise survivors of domestic and others forms of violence in my community, It is because what I would like most is to have a good normal life like anyone. I am telling a painful story that has shaped my life, helped me to heal and most importantly to move on.

* This story is part of the I Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence

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