Once bitten, twice shy

Date: November 21, 2012
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Written by *Hare

“I (Hare) had just finished my course in hotel and catering management when I found a job in one of the Safari camps as a chef. That is where I met Jobs, my husband in 1999. We fell in love at first sight. He was working as one of the camp managers there. Three months after I joined the camp, Jobs left work and went back to town. Despite the long distance between us we kept in touch.

In 2000, when I was on leave we got married. I had my first child and the relationship was fine until we expected the second child. It was then that the relationship became sour. At that time I was still at the camp.

In the camp, families were not allowed to stay if they had two children. I therefore asked my mother in-law to remain with our two children but she said she could not make it due to her old age. Having these problems I ensured that I saved money to build a house at our plot. I left the camp after the completion of the house and opened a small tuck-shop at home to earn a living.

Suddenly my husband started coming home late. My husband would not eat the food we prepared. He would sleep with clothes on and when I tried to talk to him he would get angry. I decided to keep quiet. Life continued like that until 2003 when my husband instructed me to go home promising me that he will visit the children and I.

When I left, he only gave me money for transport but nothing for our children to be taken care of. While we were at home my husband never phoned or sent money. He never visited. When the kids got sick he never cared. While we were at home our clothes got stolen and we informed him but he never cared or responded. I then decided to move from home to go back to him.

We arrived at home late in the night. On arrival my husband did not welcome us, rather he instructed me not to sleep in the bedroom. He made me sleep in the unfinished sitting room. Imagine the sitting room, without windows or door with the kids. As if it was not enough the following morning he packed all my things and took me to his mother where I fainted.

I woke up at the hospital. My children were taken to my mother in-law and were not taken care of properly. While these kids were at my mother in-law, their father never visited them. Surprisingly he went out of the country to visit his female friends.

When I came out of hospital I could not take the abuse anymore. I stayed with my aunt in another town. I started looking for part time jobs to get money for the survival of my kids. I got a job as a chef in one of the hotels.

A month later, my husband returned only to take all his belongings from the house. I later found that he had a girlfriend and that they had a child together. I remained alone with my children and since I had a job, I managed to finish our incomplete house and take care of my children. My husband never bothered to help me and his children.

A few months later, I was raped by a strange man while I was travelling. I found out I was pregnant. I informed my husband but he never cared. I lived with shame, pain and was unproductive at work. This affected my job and I was fired from work. I gave birth to a baby girl as result of the rape.

Later my husband decided to come back home. On arrival he apologised for everything and requested that we should give our marriage another chance. He promised to take care of the child born out of rape saying that it was not my fault that I was raped. My husband had lost his job and had nothing to bring home. It was a burden for me to feed him and the children.

A few months later he got a job and things started to change again, he even bought a car. He started coming in late at night and would tell me to take this other baby to her father. He said that the baby and I should leave his house, yet I had built it. He threatened to burn my baby and I.

Every day there was a story. One day he told me that he was going for a wedding where he stayed for five days and when he came back he took all my clothes and those of the children and threw them outside.

I phoned my pastors who came that night. They tried to talk to him but he would not listen. He just emphasised that he cannot stay in the same house with the baby and I. He then took everything in the house including the TV, fridge, I mean everything and he said he was moving to his mother’s place.

My pastors talked to me and gave me courage. They referred me to Women against Rape (WAR) for help. At WAR I got help for emotional, mental and physical abuse. WAR provided me with me a short course in business management. I have now started a small catering business with some cash from my pastors.

My husband wanted to come back home, I do not want anything to do with him. I told him that we should first go for marriage counselling and HIV and AIDS test but he refused. He tried to force me to have sex with him, I never allowed him. He ended up beating me saying I have a boyfriend. I have now filed a divorce with the help of WAR. I hope I will be happy and free from this man. Currently, the children are happy and my business is doing well.”

*Not her real name.
This story is a personal account that is also used in The Gender Based Violence Indicators Study Botswana by Gender Links and Women’s Affairs Department, Botswana.


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