Zimbabwe: My employee fuelled abuse in my home

Date: October 10, 2019
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I had a happy marriage and was blessed with a healthy baby boy after one year. My husband, Timothy*, would go to neighbouring countries and come back with goods for resale. We finally opened a retail shop which had lots of groceries and a few clothing items. When I was heavily pregnant with my second child, Timothy* suggested that I look for someone to assist with in our shop and some of the household chores. I regret the day I hired a nineteen year old young lady, Chipo*, to be my helper. 

At first Chipo* was very obedient and would do all her duties on time. After some time she started being arrogant and rudely answered back whenever I questioned about her sudden change of behaviour. My husband seemed to take no notice of the tension which was developing between us. When I finally told Chipo* to leave for her place my husband defended her saying that I had to be tolerant by giving her a second chance. I was embarrassed when Timothy* said that he had always given me second chances in life despite my shortcomings. Timothy* said that in front of Chipo*. From that day Chipo* started behaving as if she was the mother of the house and I being the shop attendant.  

One day Chipo* refused to do the laundry saying we were both women thus I did not have to act like I was her boss. I asked what she meant by that and Timothy interjected by defending her. He plainly told me to stop being lazy and start working like an able bodied woman because it was then my turn to wash and clean the house and shop since Chipo* was pregnant. I was surprised to hear that for I wanted to know who was responsible for the pregnancy. No one was prepared to answer my numerous questions.  

I started throwing Chipo*’s clothes out of the room that she used. To my surprise Timothy* angrily intervened and told me to stop my madness. He then told me that Chipo* was his second wife and I had been blind not to notice that. He also showed me a signed piece of paper which had a list of what Timothy* had paid to Chipo*’s parents as lobola. I felt belittled and like a fool to imagine that such things had happened right under my nose. From that day Chipo* started acting like a queen and would brag to the community that she was Timothy*’s second wife.  

Chipo* accompanied Timothy* wherever he went to buy stocks for the shop. Chipo* chose and decided what had to be done in the family. My son was transferred to another school as Chipo* considered that the school was too expensive considering that Timothy* then had two wives. My husband obliged anything that Chipo* said. I now played second fiddle in my marriage. Timothy* rarely visited my bedroom and would deny me conjugal rights whenever he came to me saying he was tired. 

The final blow was when Timothy* said that we were too crowded at the shop and I had to move to our rural home. When I tried to tell him that Chipo* had to leave for the rural home all hell broke loose. Timothy* started insulting me and Chipo* joined by saying that I was arrogant and should listen to what I was being told. That infuriated me and I started shouting at Chipo* for being a home wrecker. It angered Timothy* and they both physically assaulted me. My belongings were thrown out and I was given some money for transport to go back to my parents’ place. Timothy* said that he no longer wanted me at our rural home because he no longer wanted me as his wife. He threatened to severely deal with me if he ever heard that I had not returned to my parents home. He said that he would regularly some money for the children’s upkeep but had nothing to do with me.  

I went to his brother’s place who promised to talk to Timothy*. My husband had refused to listen to what his brother and other relatives are advising him by insisting that he no longer wants me as his wife since he now has Chipo*. I am so heartbroken and have started a vegetable market to supplement to the little money that Timothy* sends us.