Mpho Millicent Kumalo chats to Kwanele Mathebula about finding the strength to leave an abusive marriage.
My husband and I were married for 13 years before signs of abuse came to the fore. I was a housewife, and he was working. In October 2016, things started to change after we bought a car and he joined the gym. He became verbally and emotionally abusive. He would make remarks to compare me to women who worked, even though we both agreed that I would stay at home to raise our children. I also found out that he was having an affair. He told his family and I that he wanted to take the other woman as his second wife. Although I refused, his family agreed and started the lobola negotiations. His second wife moved in with us and took over his laundry and cooking. He also refused any care from me.
I tried to fix my marriage before leaving. I even found a job as a cook. It was difficult to remain strong and try to rebuild my confidence when I was constantly being put down. My husband would belittle me in favour of his second wife by sharing the money we made in the house with her. I tried to convince myself that I could give him what he wanted by living peacefully with his second wife, but I couldn’t. The stress took a toll on my health and ability to mother my children. I also felt broken and betrayed by the man who promised to take care of me.
I finally decided to leave him in February 2017. At first, I was confused and struggled to talk about what was happening with anyone. But, one day while out for a walk, I bumped into my cousin whom I was able to bare my soul to. My cousin then arranged for my family to remove my children and I from that situation. I lived with my family in Dobsonville, Soweto, for three months and they helped me through a difficult phase. They allowed me to break down and encouraged me to get back up again. I also began attending daily counselling sessions at counselling at POWA and they became a place of solace for me.
I am now in a better place. Counselling has helped me by providing me with someone I can trust, and be open and honest with. That has given me a fresh perspective on life, and hope for a better future. My current goal is to take care of myself and my children. I believe that God has made me a masterpiece out of my brokenness.
My advice to women in similar situations is to leave. You are precious to yourself and your children. Choosing to do what is right for you and your health is important. The decisions you make today will impact on you and your children’s future.