Lesotho: The abuse started with my mother

Date: September 15, 2014
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My name is Palesa and I am 32 years old. I struggled with abuse throughout my childhood. I have suffered in silence for years. It started when I was 10, right after the death of my father who used to be the breadwinner at the time. After his death, my whole family was forced to move in with my grandmother and uncle as my mother could not afford to provide for the family. It was at that moment that my mother started drinking. My mother started going out a lot to drink and when she come back, she would beat us up and say that we were the cause of her struggle. She would chase us out of the house in the middle of the night and tell us that she wished she could have aborted us when she found out that she was pregnant. We would cry and scream in fear of the dark; my grandmother and our neighbours would intervene and we would be allowed to sleep with my grandmother.

After the death of my grandmother things got worse. My mother was out of control, she would wake up to drink all day from morning to night or just disappear for months and we would not have food to eat or money to pay fees. During those times there was no free primary school, so we were forced to stay at home as my uncle would not help us. My mother would come at times with a new man or boyfriend, who would live with us for a while. This happened regularly and she would change them from time to time. We did not have a say as she would beat us up if we refused to submit to his authority. Mama said that these men were our providers and we needed to treat them well.

This would go to the extent of them forcing themselves on me and my sister. I remember once my mother was out with a couple of her drinking buddies. The man brought a bottle of a strong coffee coloured drink, which he forced us to drink; when we refused he told us that he could cause us trouble when Mama comes. For our own peace we drank it and Mama found the man in our bed. She went to the rest of her family telling them that we drank and forced his man into bed. We tried to explain to our uncle what had happened and he kicked the man out. My mother blamed us for losing her man. My sister finally found a housekeeping job and left for Maseru and I was left with Mama. The same things went on for a while, Mama and her boyfriends, and them sleeping with me.

I kept on trying to tell her but she would insult me and tell me that I was the one who invited them to rape me as I would wear pants. I had had enough and I wanted to tell someone who would listen and do something, because of the shame I felt I decided I would tell uncle when his family and Mama were out. I knew that uncle was a no nonsense person so I told him. I was 17 years old at the moment when I went to consult my uncle. My uncle told me he would help me solve the predicament, but told me that I looked appetizing and maybe that was why the men could not control themselves. My uncle forced himself on me for the very first time that day, and continued to do so until I was 25 year old and my sister found me a job too. He would tell me that because my mother was a woman she had no right to the house and he was letting us stay there because he loved me.

As if the trouble I have had was not enough, I moved to Maseru and worked as a housekeeper for a family and the father would try to get into bed with me, I would refuse and he would tell me that I would not have peace in his house if I did not do what he wanted. He made sure that I did not have peace, so I got tired of him trying and ran away and found a good job.

*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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