Botswana: My son and his father abused me

Botswana: My son and his father abused me

Date: November 28, 2014
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*Trigger warning: gender violence*

My name is *Emily and I live in Lobatse. In 1994, at the age of eighteen, I started dating and by nineteen I was pregnant. My boyfriend was unemployed at that time but we loved each other very much. My boyfriend was later employed by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and was sent to Pandamatenga for military training for six months. By the time I gave birth, in November 1995, he had only three weeks left to complete the training. I wrote him a letter informing him about the birth of our child. Upon completing the training he was posted to Gaborone, but our relationship continued without problems. I stayed with my mother in Lobatse and he would visit us frequently.

Then my boyfriend started seeing other women. People told me how he changed girlfriends like toys. This hurt me a lot as I loved him with all my heart. My mother died in January 1997 and I carried on living with my step brother. He would abuse me, continuously reminding me that the compound belonged to his father as my mother was not officially married. Fed up with the abuse, I agreed with my boyfriend that I should move to his family’s place in Lobatse. Wow! Listen to this, after moving to their place, he started abusing me. He would come home very drunk and start beating me up for nothing. He would not eat the food I prepared for him and would tell me to leave their home as I was preventing him from bringing his queens home. He told me that there were queens in this world and had he known this beforehand, he would not have impregnated me.

I reported the matter to his mother in Molapowabojang who speculated that the man might be mistreating me because I was a housewife who fully depended on him. She suggested that I leave the child in her care so that I could easily go and look for jobs. This did not work as I could not find a job and my boyfriend continued dating other women. He even impregnated a girl in the neighbourhood. I only discovered this when the woman was about to give birth. I confronted the woman who sarcastically advised me to chain my man and reminded me that she did not have to climb trees to get him.

Although I was very disappointed by what my boyfriend had done to me, we continued with our relationship, however, the amount of love we felt was slowly diminishing. In 1999, his mother died and I had to bring the child back to Lobatse to live with me. I was still not working at that time, and worse still, my boyfriend had stopped supporting me financially. By 2001 the child was ready to go to nursery school and I enrolled him in a nursery school with the assistance of my siblings. I then logged a maintenance case against my boyfriend and he was ordered to pay P200 per month as maintenance. He only paid once and then he tricked me into withdrawing the case, which I did because I still loved him. We parted ways in 2008 and in 2009 he got married. Our friendship then ended because he did not even care about his child.

The stress and pain did not end with the father of my child. At the moment it is the child who is causing me unnecessary pain and stress. My elder sibling, who stays in Francistown, took my son from Standard 2 until Standard 7, while I stayed in Lobatse. When he started Form 1, he began to change for the worse. He started taking drugs and became involved in fights. He also fought with his teachers. I was often called to come to the school because of his misbehaviour. Social workers tried to intervene but he did not listen to them, or anybody else and he did not respect anybody. When he completed Form three and was admitted to Form four, I spoke to my elder sibling and asked to bring the child home, but she refused.

The child then went to a senior secondary school and his behaviour became worse. He started stealing from other people. I was called time and again to attend to his problems. I did not even have time to rest. I was so stressed that once a car nearly hit me because I was absent minded, thinking of my son’s misbehaviour. I was suffering from stress and could not eat or sleep because of my son’s behaviour. When I sent money to him for transport, he would take all the money and buy cigarettes. Last year, in 2012, he began a relationship with a girl. More problems arose. The girlfriend ended the relationship because her parents did not approve and then my son sent her messages threatening to kill her.

My son and his father have really abused me. I have spent my time crying and not knowing what to do because everything that I have tried has failed. I was called to Francistown to meet with the social workers, the parents of his former girlfriend and the police. My elder sibling wanted me to take my son to live with me as she was tired of him and could no longer cope with him. I then took my son to live with me in Lobatse as I had no other choice.

In January 2013, I looked for public school vacancies for him and there were no such vacancies, so I was forced to enroll him in a private school which he still attends. My son smokes cigarettes, he plays truant and he refuses to run errands for me. I have really suffered in this world. My son enjoys fighting to such extent that he also threatens to beat me up. I live alone with him and he does not respect my bedroom. He takes whatever he wants and when I talk to him about it, he does not like it. I tried to talk to my elder siblings about it but to no avail. I pay school fees for him but he does not appreciate it and his financial demands are endless. I cannot match his demands. I have even sought counselling from helping professionals as I am stressed and I even have a chronic illness. In June I gave my son P40.00 to go and pay a water bill, but he decided to use the money himself. When I asked him about the money he said he used it to pay his debts. I have really had enough of my son’s misbehaviour.

*Not her real name

This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links News Service encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.


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