Life will never be the same

Date: January 1, 1970
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In 2004, I met this guy from the Eastern Cape. I am from the same place, but a different town. It was before Valentine’s Day when we met and believe me it was love at first sight. The feeling was mutual.

At the time, he did not have any family except his aunt, who only gave him a place to stay. He was still searching for a job. I was so touched by his background, the problems he had, and losing his mother as well. I felt pity for him. I felt bad and moved in with him, because I had a job at that time. It was a big mistake to move in with him – everyone warned me about that big step, especially my mother, friends and my young brother. However, truly speaking, at that time love was in the air.
By October that year, he was employed with one of the biggest companies in Johannesburg. This was something we were both praying for. Our lives changed from the day he got the job because he was earning more than me. In December, I discovered that I was two weeks pregnant. The joy, love and happiness we had cannot compare with anything.
After some time, I realised that his aunt was not happy about our relationship, though even today I cannot tell you the reason. At the time we were staying in her house, and she started to act funny. At first, she said we must pay rent, which was not a problem for us because we both had jobs. She continued demanding money, but still we overcame that.
In January 2005, we had a serious problem. His aunt started to demand more money, saying she has no children to take care of her. We could see that there was a motive behind it, but my boyfriend and I would start fighting and arguing about it.
It would lead where my boyfriend would start to beat me, saying I had no respect for his aunt. Eventually we were fighting every day, especially when the aunt is around, and I would leave them and go to my parents house. My boyfriend suspected that his aunt might be using muthi to separate us. The beatings continued harder and stronger. I thought the pregnancy was playing a role as well because I became so jealous when he would go out. The fights would start again and he would beat me.
He paid lobola as our tradition says. In august 2005, I delivered a baby boy; we were both so happy. Before the end of 2005, we officially got married. In 2005, we bought a house in one of the biggest areas in Johannesburg, and in May 2007, we moved in. After we moved to our new home, everything changed. He would leave the house 8am and come back at 11 or 12pm.
When I asked him where he was coming from, in the blink of an eye I would be bleeding. The situation continued until one night I called my cousin, who is a police officer, and asked him to come around to try to talk to my husband as a man. That did not work. One night we quarreled again and he beat me up until my neighbour came to rescue me.
In October 2007, he packed my stuff and said I must leave his house; he dropped me at my mother’s house at about 11pm. After that, I did not know his whereabouts because his phone was always on voicemail. It was so painful and stressful as his two-year-old son would cry and ask about his daddy. It was not easy – with the trauma and depression, I was miserable and crying.
I went to our house in the beginning of 2008 to check who was staying there. I found out that other people were renting the house, as he was not able to sell it to them without my signature. He had sold them everything that was inside the house, including my furniture and I was left with nothing except my family and my child.
After some few months, I received a call from a woman saying I must forget about him because she was preparing to marry him, but that time I had no tears. I said to myself, “God, you said if you are for us, nothing can be against us.”
On 21 July 2008, he came back apologising. I forgave him because I’m a Christian, but we are not staying together yet. I still do not trust him and we are both unemployed. Though I forgave him, the trust is broken and life between him and I will never be the same again. A big thank you to my mother, my friends and family, and my pastor who supported me through all this.
* not her real name
This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.

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