Swaziland: Surviving emotional violence, embracing change and living life

Date: November 26, 2013
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Lubombo, 27 November: I have been married for a number of years now. When he proposed, I never doubted he was the one. But, I tell you, the life I was living was not what I expected from my boyfriend. One often thinks cheating or beating is the biggest threat to a marriage, but for me, there was something else equally as devastating.

Before we had a baby, I could tell him anything and he would help out. He would remind me how beautiful I was, tell me how much I meant to him and how much he loved me. This fueled the love between us and at one stage, I could swear he was the man of my dreams. He would appreciate everything I did for him no matter how small it was.
Things changed when I fell pregnant with our son. I thought he would be excited and treat me like a queen, but that did not happen. When I was craving something, he would tell me to grow up and stop acting like a baby.

During my pregnancy he treated me like a slave. He wouldn’t help me with house work or shopping; would not walk with me in public and he would even introduce me as his friend to his friends. When I complained about anything, he would blow up with anger, so I decided to keep quiet. I was burning inside. I was convinced he hated me because I was pregnant.

The situation got even worse when I had the baby. He loved our son very much but he cared less about me, and I needed him so much. Occasionally, he left my son and I penniless and would go to stay at a friend’s place in South Africa. When he called, he would ask about his baby and not bother to ask about me. When I tried to speak, he would just hang up. I would have to go to my neighbors asking for food and soap to wash for my baby. I would have to walk all the way to the clinic because I had no bus-fare.

After a month, he came back with nothing but weak apologies for not being there for me and he promised not to do it again. I could never understand what he wanted me to do when he left me broke with absolutely nothing. This affected me emotionally because I was not feeling the love, protection and provision he gave me in the beginning of our relationship. I would often weep seeing couples doing things together and looking after their children. As much as this hurt, I didn’t want a divorce and nor could I afford it.

Because of these financial constraints and utter loneliness, I started seeing another man. As a result, I contracted HIV, which I unknowingly passed to my baby through breast-feeding and to my husband. This was discovered after I got sick with TB. This man provided me with everything my own husband did not. He gave me money, support me and drive me to the clinic when I needed to go. I did not intend to cheat on my husband but the marriage was unbearable.

Although this has brought such a dreadful disease to my family, I am glad that it has changed my husband’s attitude and behavior. He is now determined to support his family at all costs.

He is qualified counselor and shares his story with the public, encouraging them to support their wives and to be good husbands and fathers. We now have an HIV negative baby girl. My son, husband and I are living a healthy lifestyle, living life to the fullest on our anti-retroviral treatment. To all the women out there, don’t give up, believe in yourself, know what you want and go out and get it!

*Not her real name

Noma lives in Swaziland. This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links News Service as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender violence, encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.



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