Waking up after the nightmare

Date: January 1, 1970
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I am a 25-year-old Muslim girl who was born and brought up in Kwa Zulu Natal . At the age of 19 I was very independent, had a good job, friends, and family. I met a 25-year old guy who promised me the world, a queen’s life. I wasn’t ready for marriage so I told him we should date, and then see where our love takes us.

I dated him for two years before we got married, and he was caring, loving, and supporting. My family did the whole wedding and furnished our home. My Dad bought me a car as a gift. That’s when I thought my dreams would come true. Just two weeks into the marriage, the nightmare began.
He become very verbally, then physically abusive – always to my body not my face. I would ask why, but he never gave any answers. It went on for 2 months non-stop, till he packed his clothes and walked out. My family told me to come back home.
It was hard to get over what happened, but with my families support I was ok. It would have been our first anniversary when he came back and told me he was sorry for what happened. He wanted another chance. He begged and pleaded, and I fell for it. I packed a few clothes and went with him to Durban.
Life was good for a week. He took a truck to pick up all my furniture that I put in storage, and he promised my family things will be ok between us. Yet again things were great for 2 weeks. Then he started abusing me again. When he would “apologies,” he would want to sleep with me.
There was one week that things were ok. He took me out to dinner and movies, and was very loving and caring. One morning he kissed me on his way to work, saying he loves me and “see you later.” Two hours later two police in uniform knocked on the door, handed over a protection order and arrest warrant. They told me to leave the premises immediately.
I called my husband. He told me to go back to my family. He doesn’t want me anymore and used me to get all my furniture. The protection order said I used to abuse and sexually harassed him, that I was having an affair with a 17-year-old boy, and using drugs at our home. I jumped in my car and left. 
I tried to call him that evening, but he didn’t take my calls. I went home that evening, begging to know what I did. He slammed the door on my hand, saying get out.
He pushed me and I fell and cracked my head. When he saw me in pain he told me to come in and talk. I went in and he wanted to have sex. I said no, and he said he loved me and when I insisted no. He headed me into the bedroom and put himself in me while holding me down and covering my mouth. 
After, he said he loved me and things will be ok. He sent me to Pietermaritzburg the next morning to see my family and to give them money. My mum saw there was something wrong, so I told her what my husband had done. She was shocked with nothing to say, and told me stay back or he would kill me. 
I did not listen. When I returned home I was shocked to find all the locks changed. He called me saying to get out of his house, he doesn’t want me. The next day I went to the police to open a rape and abuse case against him. They arrested him.
Yet again my family called me back home. They gave me love and support through my hard pain. It was hard for me to get over what had happened. After one and half years, I decided to make a new start. So in April 2007, I moved to Johannesburg.
Through a friend I met someone who was looking for someone to do admin work. He offered me a salary, his flat to share. I did not mean for it to happen, but we hit it off.
I told him all about my past and he told me about his. He had been married twice, had three children from the first wife. The eldest was sixteen. And he lives on his own his not with family and he can’t stay with his mum they don’t get along.
Everyone that knew us thought we were the perfect couple. On 30 June 2007, we decided to get married with our parents blessing. We also found out that I was pregnant with my 1st baby. We were excited and happy.
When the doctor put me on bed rest because of some complications, my husband, loved, cared, washed, did everything for me.  However, soon after that, he changed towards me, becoming verbally abuse.
His family stayed across the street from us and they began spying on me, and also being verbally abusive. At the beginning of October 2007, we had a fight that ended with him telling me to get out of his house.
I jumped in my car to cool off. I waited until he phoned me to come back home that morning about 3:30 am. When I came in, I only asked him why he was looking at me like that, when he jumped from the bed, pushing me around.
I pulled a knife that he keeps under his pillow to defend myself. During a struggle, I was knocked out, and when I woke up, I heard him calling the police. 3 male and 1 female police officers in uniform came.  He then told them I was on drugs and that I used to abuse my ex-husband.
They told me I must put my shoes and come with them to the station. I told I did nothing wrong, I’m not leaving my house. Then I went back to sit on the bed. The police woman pulled me off the bed, as I screamed in pain and told her I was pregnant. I fell as she dragged me to the door.
My husband told her to leave me, that I was pregnant, and that he will bring me to the station. When they left he told me to take my things and get out. We quarrelled some more, but then he asked me to forgive him and to try and work things out. And made love.
However, things never changed. The next day, his family continued to be abusive to me. His aunty accused me of abusing him, and that the baby was not his. She also knew all about my past, that l told him in detail. One day after a bit quarrel with his family, he told me my things are packed and I must pick them up. I told him no we must meet and he can give me my things.
When we met he cried and pleaded don’t go; lets work this marriage out; he loves me. He told me he was going home to pack his things, to find somewhere else to stay. But it was another lie. I had nowhere to go, so I slept in my car and washed up at malls for three weeks.  I couldn’t take it anymore for my babies’ health I went to Nissaa. They fed me and gave me a place to stay.
Nissaa tried to call my husband. He told them he wants nothing to do with me, that I’m mad, suicidal, abusive, swear at his family and hate his children; that I stole his car keys and camera.
Its being a month of living hell for me, thinking things will be ok and taking his promises. He made me live my whole past in detail, he repeated it. He breaks me to pieces setting me up taking his mums and family words over mines. what goes around comes around. It’s in Gods hands now with the help and the support from Nissaa I now can start my life again.
For other women, I want to say when you get into a new relationship be independent, work, and have an income. Remember your family will always be your family and they will always love you. Live life don’t let life live you.
* not her real name
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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