My father saved me

Date: November 24, 2009
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My whole body is filled with so much anger and fury as I crawl out of the bed and wander around the house before heading to the lounge, where I sat feeling helpless until 5 o’clock.

I dialled my parents’ number and within no time, my father answered the phone, with a sleepy voice.

With tears trickling down my cheeks, and my voice hoarse due to the inner rage that was in me, I presented my father with three options. I asked him whether he wanted me dead, or for me to murder someone and for me to be jailed.

I told him, he had hit me again and I could not stand the violence anymore. “If you love me dad, I want you to rescue me.”

“Calm down my daughter, I will be there shortly,” was his response and in an hour’s time, he was by the gate. One look at my face said it all. My eyes, mouth, in fact every part of my body was swollen. There was no questioning what had happened.

He looked at me with a sympathetic eye, shook his head and took me in his arms and cuddled me like a child. “Are you ready to leave,” he asked me.

“Yes dad. I can’t take it anymore,” I said, tears still trickling down my cheeks. He asked me to pack my bags and come home with him. I complied, took my bags and left without saying a word to my husband, who, had turned into my worst enemy.

I hated him. All I could feel for him at that time was hatred.

“I don’t ever want you to come back to this man. If you decide to come back, don’t ever dare call me,” my dad said in anger.

This was the third time he had come to collect me after my husband had beaten me up. This time he had beaten me because he accused me of having extra marital affairs, after a male relative called me. Before, the reasons were that I was disrespectful and was not a suitable wife for him.

Every attempt I had made to run away had been fruitless because my relatives kept telling me, “that is how marriage is like,” and I had to soldier on to save my marriage.

My father sat me down when we got home and he told me that I was never going to go back to my husband again. He told me he was tired of coming to rescue me from a dangerous and undeserving man.

He invited some counsellors who talked to me and told me that I did not have to go back to my husband if I didn’t want to. They told me that I did not deserve to be beaten up and they also told me that the end result was going to be death if I did not protect myself.

At first it was difficult but I told myself that I deserved a better life and that if I kept going back, he was going to kill me one day.

After some time, I recovered. My father gave me some money to start a small business. I joined my friend in crossing the borders to South Africa and Botswana. I soon became a cross border trader, joined streams of Zimbabweans who were buying and selling various wares for resale.

My customers grew by the day. I also managed to secure a stand at a flea market and my life has now improved.

My husband came after me like he had always done and tried to sweet-talk me into going back home but this time, I was adamant. I told him, I did not want to die or to be jailed one day after being forced to retaliate.

My life is much better now when I am alone compared to when I was staying with my husband. I feel I have been liberated and I would like to encourage other women in abusive relationships to take the bold steps to free themselves and to report the perpetrators.

I realise now that I could have easily been killed because I allowed him to make me a punch bag. I thank my father for being there for me and for rescuing me.

* not their real names. Tariro Benga is a writer from Zimbabwe; this story was shared with her by a survivor of GBV. 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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