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 two- year-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.