Lesotho: Field worker abused by my husband

Date: September 9, 2014
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My name is Thumi. I am a woman of 47. I work at one of the international NGOs serving communities with various livelihood skills. I am employed as a subject matter specialist and am always travelling to the districts doing field support work. In most months, I visit the districts, leaving my husband and our two kids at home. Sometimes the children are left to be cared for by the housekeeper, when my husband also leaves for his field trips.
Earlier last year, I was called to one of the districts for two full weeks. We hit the road as usual and were booked into a hotel. In the second week, one Wednesday, the hotel management decided to throw us a party as a token of thanksgiving for using their hotel for our regular visits. We had some drinks and a braai. Because I was alone, I decided to take a few drinks with my colleagues, but they just would not, by the way.
Just in the midst of the party, I received a call from my husband who told me that he and his work crew were on the way to the same hotel as ours, as they had to attend an important community gathering the following day. I froze. I was already tipsy (on a weekday!) I told one of my colleagues about this and he advised me to take away a bottle of wine to my room, immediately. I did so; frustrated and afraid of what my husband would think of me being drunk like this, because it had never happened before. I waited in my room impatiently. Then one of our drivers, a gentleman who respected me dearly, popped into my room, demanding to know why I had left the party early. He had a cigarette burning on his lips. I pushed him out of the room so that the smell would not linger, then I told him about my husband. He left. My room smelled of cigarette, and just when I was thinking about what I could do to freshen the air in the room, my husband came in. He looked me straight in the eye and accused me of being drunk, he also complaining about the cigarette smell. I tried to explain the situation, and why I had taken the drink, but he was becoming more and more furious.
He locked the door, silently undressed and forced me to undress. He demanded sex right away, telling me that I had been with another man, apparently because of the cigarette smell. When I had satisfied his needs, he took me by the hand, wanting to force me out the door down the corridor, naked as we were, to go to my colleagues and tell them that I was his wife and that he had arrived. I was shocked that he would even say such a thing, especially because he was sober! I refused to leave the room and he beat me, and then checked into his own room. We met in the morning but he refused to speak to me. We met again in the evening and I tried to sit him down and explain myself, but that only triggered another beating, accompanied by death threats. I gave up trying. I sneaked out of the room and called my boss to please release from this assignment, after telling him the seriousness of my situation. Without hesitation, I was given the green light so I left for Maseru with one of our drivers, leaving my stuff there.
I believe someone told him I had left, because at dawn, he kicked his way into our house, went straight to our wardrobe, threw my clothes and belongings to the floor, and ordered me to leave. He was accusing me of having an affair with either the boss, or the driver. Because I did not want any more beatings, I picked up my things, called a taxi, and headed for my sister’s house. I will never go back to him; he has shown me another side of him that is crazy and violent. I fail to understand why men behave that way; I have never thought of him cheating on me. He always came home late, drunk, smelling like a fresh bar of soap and lotion, but I would always push away the thoughts of him cheating. Why did he think he has the right to beat me, embarrass me, and rape me on the first occurrence of my drinking alcohol? Men are abusive and selfish, yet anything and everything is good when it comes from their side, since women do not object.
This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.

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