Mauritius: Growing stronger every day

Date: April 3, 2023
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“I will not tolerate abuse again as I have learnt how to stand up and care for myself.”

My name is Divya and I am currently in Grade 9. I came to Safe Haven Halfway Home (SHHH) in 2019 with my mother and sister, following various searches to find a dwelling and to escape from the abuse I was facing.

My family told me that my biological father committed suicide two days after my birth because he could not live with the fact that my mother was in love with another man. Since the age of seven, my stepfather who was a drug addict has been violent towards me, both verbally and physically. He did not like me and used to scream at me and beat me. He would not give me food when I came back from school and sometimes expelled me from the house. I had to stay on the roof of the house, in the cold and waited for my mother to return back from work. Even when my mom knew what my stepfather was doing to me, she said that I deserved it. I was also forced to do household chores for my extended family, consisting of 13 people.

When I reached 11 years of age, I could no longer tolerate the abuse I suffered from my stepfather and began to self-harm. I ultimately went to report the abuse to the police station and my mom would not visit me until the next day as she said she was busy at work. My mother never celebrated my birthday before; for my 16th birthday when I phoned her, she vented out the frustration she had with her partner and yelled at me, which made me cry. Nonetheless, I have recently celebrated my 16th birthday at SHHH and got three birthday cakes! I feel very grateful for the constant support of the staff and residents of SHHH. Despite my difficult past with my mother, we are still in contact today. We sometimes go out shopping together and she asks about how I am doing at school. With the help of a cousin, I also stay in contact with my little brother whom I love very much and who lives at my grandmother’s place.

My elder sister and I used to fight a lot. One day, she left me without saying goodbye and blocked me on all social media platforms. At first, I felt shocked, sad, hurt and deeply frustrated. I would wait for a phone call from her every night until I understood that she had really abandoned me. Although I still feel sad, I am slowly starting to accept the fact that my sister is no longer a part of my life.

When I first came to Safe Haven, the staff helped me to feel at ease. The staff have often praised my hair and eye colour, as well as my fashion style; these positive comments helped me to love myself more. Whenever I behaved out of immaturity, they made me understand the consequences of my actions but also taught me how not to make the same mistakes again.

The harsh events I have gone through have made me stronger and helped me to grow. I am now working on developing my self-esteem and self-confidence. I have been able to overcome the bullying I was facing at school and I have a good relationship with my friends and teachers. I do my best to obtain good grades in my studies.

When I grow up, I want to buy my own house and be financially independent. I will not tolerate abuse again as I have learnt how to stand up and care for myself. I love nail art, doing physical activities and dancing. I would like to become an air hostess or open my own nail art salon and dance studio one day.