Camelia’s story from Safe Haven Halfway Home Mauritius

Date: April 3, 2023
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Healing from traumatic life experiences

“I am learning to establish healthy boundaries with everyone around me.”

My name is Camelia and I am aged 32 years old. I have two children, a daughter and a son. I came to Safe Haven Halfway Home (SHHH) in February 2022 following several traumatic life experiences.

I feel blessed and grateful that I was able to come to Safe Haven Halfway Home, at a time when I felt that there would be no end to my pain. I experienced physical, emotional, psychological and sexual violence from my previous partner. My ex-partner used controlling and coercive behaviour to cage me inside the house. My neighbour saw me sleeping outside of the house, without food for several days and she brought me to Safe Haven.

My life has been marked by several incidents which have marked me deeply. Firstly, my ex-partner of 11 years old, was involved in an affair with my younger sister. This betrayal deeply hurt me; I had invested my love, affection, money and everything in this relationship. I realise today that my ex-partner simply wanted me to replace the mother figure in his life (to cook, clean and do other chores according to his own ways). The latter also took advantage of the fact that I was a very affectionate and caring person. Secondly, my ex-partner used to beat me a lot. The more I refused to do things the way he wanted, the more I would be beaten. My husband also forced me to have sex with him, for around eight to nine months.

I was beaten so much once that I lost my mental stability and experienced psychosis. My ex-partner hit me from 4.30 in the afternoon till the morning next day. He closed all the doors and windows so I could not escape. He beat me in front of my one-year-old son. He also told my daughter not to cry or shout or else he would kill me. As soon as that door opened the next morning (my neighbours had to forcefully open it), my tears were bloodied and I had scars and bruises everywhere on my body. I only remember wanting to run away from what I had just been through. I went towards the sugarcane fields nearby, barefoot. I recall seeing muddy water along the way; I also remember removing my clothes and swimming in that water. After swimming in the muddy water, I continued to walk and reached a crossroad and started writing some haphazard words on the tarmac with a stick. Some labourers working nearby called the police who then brought me to the hospital; three injections were required to put me to sleep. The next day, the same doctor who had looked after me during my depressive episode after the suicide of my husband came to consult me. My ex-partner fetched me from the hospital after two weeks. I started to fear everything once I got out of the hospital and I became child-like. Despite the horrendous acts he did with me, I was still attached to him as he was the only one there for me.

In addition to the above, I have lost four children. My ex-partner forced me to abort our first child and I have experienced three very painful miscarriages. Since I was imprisoned at home; I could not access contraceptive pills. My ex-partner would force me to have sex following my miscarriages. On two occasions, he also invited other men to sleep with me. I squarely refused. When I left my ex-partner once, he convinced and manipulated my sisters to convince me to return back home. I still cannot fathom how my ex-partner was able to exercise such complete control over me. Fear would grip me at all times and I lost all of my decision-making abilities, becoming totally dependent on my ex-partner. Furthermore, my ex-partner would bring with him in the car to fetch drugs. I was scared to death and when I panicked, he hit me. Despite facing such challenging times, I feel that my children are my strength and provide me with the will to live.

Today I am afraid that I will be abused again; I am working on managing my emotions in a healthy manner. In terms of my qualities, I believe that when I love someone, I tend to care for them and do everything to make them happy. I love listening to music as it is uplifting and therapeutic. I also like to sing, dress up and do my make-up. There are aspects of my personality that I know I should work on, for instance, I should stop being scared of telling the truth to people as too often I empathise with people and do not want to hurt them. I should also learn to express myself in an appropriate manner and ensure that people cannot manipulate me. Thus, I am learning to establish healthy boundaries with everyone around me.

My current partner has seen and understood what I have been through. He is supportive and caring in both my good and bad times towards me and my children. My current partner helped me to believe in love again and I dream of marrying him one day. He also motivates me to be a good mother. In terms of my dreams for my children, I want my daughter to persevere in her studies as she has a lot of potential. My dream is to see both of my children succeeding in their respective lives and being happy.