My Marriage With an Abuser

women Abuse GBV 16 Days
Wednesday, 10 December, 2014 - 09:23

Women’s willingness to abandon their abusive partners could go a long way in freeing them from various forms of gender-based violence

I grew up in a family rich in values, closely knit. My parents got divorced before I was born. They divorced because my father was a drug addict. I lived with my granny and mum and later on my mum moved on. I had a good childhood and turned out to be an independent successful woman.

I met my husband when I went to my cousin's place in Johannesburg for the Easter holidays. He was my cousin's husband friend. Although I was reluctant to date him initially we ended up together and subsequently married. In the Hindu custom the guy must buy jewellery for the woman but he did not buy stating money as the excuse.

It did not matter to me because I am not material person so my parents bought the jewellery for me. On the day of marriage my stepfather was not allowed to attend on the basis of race (he is white) by his family. They did not want my mom to perform our rituals. Out of respect I got married in his way. His family never welcomed me but instead they started picking on my surname, saying what kind of surname is it and also on my stepfather that he is white. I went back to my parents place and told my mother about the experience and she said it is too late. He made me pay for our honeymoon because he did not have money.

We moved to our own flat. He would check the food and measuring how I have been eating. This went on for days until I asked him and he got angry. He kept on pressurising me to take my investment money but I refused and he would threaten to throw me from the 7th floor so that he could take it since we married in community of property. He also wanted to take my jewellery that my parents have bought for me. He said he would tell people that I had committed suicide. I took out all my money and gave it to him, but my jewellery that my parents bought I kept it. My parents did not want me to give him the money. He did not want me to work and told me a woman's place is at home. He is a man and I must do what he says.

He used to physically abuse me, for example, twisting hand. It went on for some time until I got angry and said enough is enough and walked out and came to Durban. He followed me and apologised and said he will not will not do it again. I came back to Johannesburg again. I also learned that the mother had told him not to do anything for me – for example, buying clothes. He said I should just clean and cook for him and his child and then leave the house. So it was like that every weekend.

We stayed in Johannesburg for a year as he was trying to do a business, he ended up leaving his job and life was tough for us. So we came to Durban where he got a job. He then had a girlfriend, started gambling, using a loan from the bank. I could not fall pregnant and we sought medical help but only found out that it was my mother-in-law who had caused it (bewitchment) after prayer I fell pregnant with a baby girl. When I told him it is a girl he said no it can never be a girl. At six months the doctor did a scan and confirmed it is a girl in his presence. This angered him and he made me sleep on the floor but I never told anyone because I knew they would not believe me because he is a pretender.

This went on until I gave birth. I had a complication during delivery and I decided to save the baby first. I passed out during delivery and I missed out on her birth. I was anxious to know what actually happened and he said what type of a mother are you, you do not even know your own child - he said you are useless mother and I believed him and even blamed myself.

He went back into gambling- coming late at night spending less time at home. I told him - I had enough- it is either you change or you leave and he left. He took the car- that my aunt had given to me.

The child was two and half months; he went to court to file for divorce. And my attorney filed for maintenance, protection order and requested the car but won the case and he kept the car. (Though the car was stolen later). But he had to pay maintenance for me and the child and he came after a year and asked for forgiveness and said he will stop gambling and beating me up and I accepted him back. He only came back after the house was sold due to divorce. I took half of my money and paid all in accounts. When he came he had nothing and he got another job and opened up his business. Due to fraud he was taken to court and he lost the case and his job too and left with the business. He wanted to involve me but I said I do not like lies, he tried, to strangle me and had internal injuries. And the children witnessed. I never told anybody except my aunt.

He was also cheating and doing pornography. The verbal abuse continued - he called me names like I am useless. He never allowed me to drive the car and I ended up being dependent on him. He would not allow me to go on the Internet to pay accounts; I ended up not doing anything even making a simple decision.

Two years back: he wanted me dead. I took an overdose pills on a Saturday at 1h30, I tried to commit suicide. Though I was trying to hide it, my daughter saw and went to tell my husband and he said: “Don't worry she will sleep it out - and I will be free to do what I want.” The following day, a Sunday, he phoned my parents claiming he did not know what happened to me. When my parents came my daughter told them the truth. He was forced to take me to the hospital where I was put on the life support for four days. When I came out of hospital he said he was sad because I never died. That is when my mother was really angry with him.

At that time I wanted to leave him but my mother said I should give him another chance. My mother had always treated him like her own son. After the overdose he pawned my jewellery for gambling. I was really angry and called the police.

One day after picking the children from school, my daughter asked for a bubble gum and he refused and became violent on my daughter and I called the police and again I let him go because of the kids.

Because we could not afford the bond we moved in with my parents under the condition that he stops gambling. Life was tough because he had lost the business.
After be friending Dan things did not go well for him till he did not have anywhere to stay, so my parents gave him money to go back to Johannesburg and we left him at the station. He has been coming up for the court cases.

It was a very long and tough road to recovery, with the support from my family I came out stronger. I can now do things for myself. I am independent again. I can drive my kids to school, wear what I want, I still feel betrayed especially after Dan's intrusion I feel disgusted about myself, so cheap like he is undressing me. I still cannot get closure; I am still battling until justice is achieved. In December 2012, I took him to equality court and he bribed them. And he won and made it my fault. As for my daughter she lost all faith- does not believe in police-she was traumatised (shaking). My son told my husband that I am going for karate because of you and after I will go for your friend

This article forms part of the Gender Links News Service Sixteen Days of Activism special series, offering fresh views on everyday news.

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