Zimbabwe: Broken home

Date: November 30, 2013
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Harare, 1 December: I got married in 2000. I gave birth to two beautiful girls in 2002 and 2004. But, those were the years when my problems began. I discovered that my husband was having numerous affairs with different women. Each time I confronted him he beat me. I was quiet about it for a long time because I thought I was protecting my marriage, my husband, my children and my own reputation.

Little did I know I was encouraging domestic violence and emotional abuse. When I was pregnant with my first child he refused to buy me maternity dresses and basic amenities needed during pregnancy. He said he wasn’t quite sure if he was responsible for the pregnancy. With the second pregnancy, it was even worse because and he said I should just use clothes from the first child.

When I tried to seek help from his family, they simply sided with him. Once I spoke to his mother but she backed him up saying women throw themselves at him so there is nothing he could do. Sometimes he would bring the other women he was seeing to our house.

One day the landlord gave us three months’ notice. He didn’t even do anything about it so it meant that we had to move to his family’s house. We had nowhere to put our property so my sister-in-law suggested that we take it to her friend’s place. Little did I know that this friend was my husband’s girlfriend.

Despite working as a wages clerk, he refused to give me money for the up-keep of the children and household needs. I wasn’t working and I had no way of making money. Life became so unbearable for me.

I had to go to my mother’s place to wash my baby’s nappies and clothes because that was the only place I could get soap and food for me and my kids. I started getting despondent, frustrated and my self-esteem dropped to an all-time low

I decided to moved back home. I was a heartbroken woman. I stayed at home for two good years.

Unexpectedly he came back claiming to be a changed man. Before I could even reconsider our relationship, he fell very ill and was bed ridden for two months.

He had no choice but to get tested, and he was HIV positive. I didn’t wait to get sick, so I also got tested. Like him I came out positive and I decided to accept it and forgive him. The other thing I considered was that since I was now positive it would be wise for us to stick together, though some of my family members were against my moving back to him.

We lived happily for six months and then he went back to his old ways. In 2008 he started antiretroviral treatment so he was getting fit. It was difficult for me to go back home to asks for help because my family had warned me not to go back to him. Life became so unbearable again, but luckily my family still supported me agreed to help me to earn some money.
One day when I came back from my new catering job, I found him in bed with a woman. Our home became like a court room, because people often came over accusing him of impregnating young girls.

It became so bad that even the residents association got involved. He had to go to the police for counselling, but his mother accused me of trying to get her son arrested. I cried bitterly until I realised I was wasting my time, I knew he didn’t love me anymore and my marriage was long over. I went back home to collect my children and all my belongings and went back to my family where I am today. He does not help or support the children in any way.

My children have been deeply affected by his abuse and they both need counselling. My one daughter is very aggressive and often emotional. My younger daughter is very reserved and prefers being alone. Their performance at school has also deteriorated.

Sometimes I feel suicidal. I know this is bad, but to me it seems like the only solution to my problems.

Not her real name*

Rhumbi lives in Harare, Zimbabwe. 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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