When family betrays you

When family betrays you

Date: January 1, 1970
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“Its either you have sex with me or you get deported.À Living a life like this is far away from the hopes I had growing up in Zimbabwe, dreaming of becoming a doctor after completing school.

My dreams where shattered when my father passed away before I even completed my ordinary level. Partly out of desperation, I fell in love with this old businessman in our village. I thought I loved him, though looking back, at that time l knew nothing about relationships. He promised to take care of my mother and me, and to pay for my school fees. He took advantage of me, impregnated me and dumped me.
I dropped out of school. Since l had no qualifications, my only choice was to find a job as a maid so that I could fend for my old mother and my unborn child. Under all this pressure, l gave birth to an immature baby at six months. I had to stay in hospital until he was old enough to get out.
My stepsister down here in South Africa felt sorry for me and asked me to come and look for something here, since there are few opportunities in Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. I thought that was the end of all my problems, not knowing that l was walking into the lions paws.
I entered the country illegally, and so I would stay home afraid of being deported. My sister promised me to help me get an asylum paper so that I could look for work, and while I was waiting, I would care for her kids.
I respected my sister’s husband like my own brother. He looked like a good caring husband and father, until all hell broke loose. It started one day when l was coming out of the bathroom. I got inside the house to realise he was back from work earlier than usual. l had only a towel around me. As l took my clothes so that l could go and dress in the bathroom, he moved faster towards the door and locked it from the inside.
He became aggressive, violent and stronger – l could not take his hands of me. He pushed me on the bed. He had totally changed from the man l know to a monster. This man touched me everywhere he kissed me and forced me to have sexual intercourse with him without protection. He threatened to kill me or even hand me to the police to be deported if l tell my sister.
This happened for almost three weeks and l suffered in silence. It was hurting me inside, l felt so lonely and helpless. I would cry and at one point l even thought of committing suicide.
One day something happened, and I just could not stand it any longer. I related the whole story of her abusive husband. Instead of comforting me, she became angry, was angry at me, and even accused me of seducing her husband. She told me l was loose and that is why l had a child at home out of wedlock. Therefore, she decided to throw me out of her house before I can cause much damage. That is how l ended up in the streets.
Wandering up and down the streets of Joburg with nowhere to go, no money and no relative, l met a guy who is also a foreigner who proposed and asked me to move in with him. Homeless and without options, I did. So currently, l am staying with him through one problem to another.
The first few days we had a nice time until he started to show me what he is capable of doing. He brings girlfriends home and even sleeps with them in my presence and tells them that he just took me off the streets because he felt pity for me otherwise he does not like me much.
This so-called boyfriend of mine comes home drunk and abuses me physically and verbally. He even tells me to pack my belongings if this life does not suit me. l should have sex with him to get what l want, which is food and clothing and accommodation, or else l would be back in the streets if l don’t co-operate.
I am asking for help. I would like to enroll and train so that l get a certificate, l want to be able to stand on my own feet, spread my wings and fly higher and be able to support my mother and child whom l left back home. Please help me get out of this abusive man’s house before it is too late.
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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