Lesotho: My husband infected me and then abused me for having HIV

Date: September 9, 2014
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I am a mother of four children, the eldest is 25. I am 59 years old. I have separated from my husband after more than ten years of abuse. My husband is a well-known tycoon in this town, and has always been high ranking, both in government and the private sector. Trouble in our life started some ten years back. He used to travel outside the country a lot. With the escalating HIV prevalence, I had to initiate safer sex practices, as well as regular and consistent HIV testing. In the beginning, he was okay with the suggestion and went along with it, until one time when he came from one of the neighbouring countries. He did not refuse the usage of protection for our intimacy, but when I asked him to come with me for HIV testing, he became aggressive and started shouting nasty accusations at me. He totally refused so I decided to move into another bedroom.
In the next days I decided to go for testing alone, and the results, devastatingly, came out positive. I had been prepared for this for a long time. When I got home, I told him and he locked me in our bedroom and tried to beat me, while verbally abusing me and scorning me for being infected with HIV. I took everything with positivity because I knew I was innocent. That night he forced himself into the spare bedroom where I was resting and without a damn care, he demanded sex.
For a woman my age, and the fact that I am a devoted church goer and respected member of the women’s congregation in my church, it was difficult to share with anybody what was happening to me at home. As days went by, I was becoming more and more depressed. One particular Sunday, while sitting in the living room, he told my dear children that I had tested HIV positive. It was a shock to them as he was blaming me for this new status, while claiming he was clean.
In the days that followed, the old man would come home drunk, noisy and verbally abusive. At times, I managed to lock him out of the spare bedroom, but in the mornings, we could fight anywhere in the house when our paths crossed. The kids would come between us, intervening. They even called our neighbours to help them settle the confusion, but to no avail. I stayed away from the streets because I was bruised from being thrown against the furniture in the house, daily. Day by day I was getting to the end of my patience. I just wanted to run out of that house, but I also knew that it was not a good thing in the eyes of the neighbours, and the community at large. When I called the priest to our house, my husband had him thrown out of the house.
He became more and more violent every day, and as time moved on, I decided to defend myself by hitting back, especially when he was drunk. I regret the one time when I broke his arm; that was when I decided to move out of the house for a little while. A few days later, I was called to an emergency by my neighbours, telling me that he had been stabbed with a knife by my eldest son. When I arrived, the poor boy was in our living room, weeping uncontrollably. I learned that since I had left, he verbally abused my children, and told the neighbours that I was HIV positive and would die soon.
When he fully recovered from the hospital visit, I filed for a divorce and luckily got custody of my kids and some of our property. Currently, he is staying with another woman and rumour has it that they are not happy as he is continuing with his abusive habits. I stay peacefully with my children even though sometimes we miss the good times we had together.

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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