South Africa: A tale of cyclical abuse

South Africa: A tale of cyclical abuse

Date: November 24, 2014
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My name is Marian. I have a 28 year old son. I stay alone in a two-roomed shack and it has been a month since Thabo my boyfriend moved out. I started staying with Thabo in 1995 and that time he was treating me well. Back then, I was working as a domestic worker and he was working for a construction company. After sometime, he started to change.

One afternoon when I came back from work I found him in bed with his first wife’s sister. He asked me what I was doing in the house and I told him that I was coming from work. He then took out a stick and started beating me on the head. I felt weak for a moment but then I managed to walk back to my employer who called the police. When the police came, they discovered that I was badly injured and they took me to the local hospital where my wounds were treated. I spent the night at the hospital then I was discharged the following morning. I proceeded to Thabo’s place so that I could talk to him but he refused. Instead he told me to go back to the police station. I went back to my workplace and slept for the whole day. When I woke up, I thought it was morning so I dashed to Thabo’s place to fetch my belongings. When I got there he started threatening me and said that I could only take my belongings the following morning but I insisted that I wanted them.

Eventually I got into the house and started packing my clothes. Thereafter, Thabo started holding me affectionately and could not let me go. I stayed with him and we reconnected. After sometime my wounds got healed. Thabo took out the stitches using a razor so I never had to go to the hospital.

We stayed for some time but after a few months, things changed again and Thabo dumped me for another woman. He would date me and this lady at the same time. Eventually he returned back to me but at that time, I saw that he was getting sick.

He used to sweat a lot, cough and have swollen feet. I looked after him though. When he became better, I told him that we should go for an HIV test but he refused. I went to the clinic alone and got tested after which I learnt that I was HIV positive. When I got back home, I told Thabo about the HIV test and the results. He then told me that he had also gone for an HIV test and was positive, but he was afraid of telling me. I later found out that Thabo was already on ARV treatment after he became very sick and was asked by the nurses how far he was with his ARV treatment. I was so frightened and shocked because he had not revealed this to me.

All this time I was taking care of him and when he got better again, he started seeing other women. He started receiving phone calls from women. Soon after that he left me for another woman. I wonder if he ever disclosed his HIV status to the woman. Because I am now HIV positive, I have even decided to take him to the maintenance court to seek support from him. Quite often I hear that he still talks about me to people saying that I want him to return home but that is not true.

I have decided to leave him as he is not worth having in my life. My life is much better without him. I have a child who is unemployed and who needs my support.

This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.

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