Beaten, battered, raped

16th April 2018
Woman survives cursed marriage Source:The Midweek Sun

After four years of a sustained campaign of psychological, emotional and physical abuse by her ex-husband that was designed, she believes, to make her feel worthless, Jane* left her home with only a blanket and her most prized possession - her daughter. The 35-year-old lecturer at the Gaborone Technical College gave a heart-wrenching testimony of how she survived an abusive marriage against the odds at the St Augustine Theological School recently. She shared how at 19 years old, she was forced to get married after she fell pregnant, after all she had embarrassed her family, herself and the church by falling pregnant out of wedlock. Even before getting married, signs of abuse in the relationship were there according to Jane.

She recalled how, the night before their nuptials, her husband-to-be was nowhere to be found. When he finally resurfaced in the wee hours of the morning, he pushed, shoved, harassed and ruined Jane’s hair as she carried their one year old daughter. “He kept saying how he will ruin my beauty and beat the degree out of me since it’s the one making me crazy,” she narrated. That night, she said, she called her parents wanting to cancel the wedding but all she got was a lecture of how that would embarrass the family. “My mother and uncles said I needed to go ahead with the wedding, whatever issues I had will be addressed after the wedding.” The abuse went on however, day and night, as Jane, a student at the time, balanced school and taking care of their child and home. She was deeply exhausted, depleted and worn. But even worse, was living in a perpetual state of walking on eggshells. “He would go out drinking, come home to harass and beat me then demand sex. If I refused, he would become enraged. It was easier to give in than argue.

Those nights I felt that I was almost being raped," she said. “Every month I was treated for a sexually transmitted disease.” The night before Jane finally left her husband and the house they lived in for good, he had gone drinking as usual and brought home a woman. She found them frolicking on her bed and without a hint of remorse, he shouted at her and told her how useless and ugly she was. Her daughter saw and heard it all. That’s when she decided enough was enough. She shares her story, not for pity, but believes it’s important to have a conversation about how support structures that are often meant to build a person and the family often fail when it comes to dealing with domestic abuse. Jane, who feels let down and misled by society said, “I’m not a victim but a victor, a warrior. I don’t need you to feel sad for me.

I need you to help me make noise and disrupt the cycle, become a catalyst for change. “We have created an environment where abuse is tolerated and covered up, even here in the church.” Social worker from the Botswana Counseling Association, Keletso Tshekiso also acknowledged that when speaking of domestic violence, and the cultural factors that foment it, one crucial element missing from the discussion has been religion. She said in the years of working with victims of domestic violence, she found it was "extremely common" that women would be "encouraged by the church” to stay in an abusive relationship. “Women in faith communities where divorce is shunned, and deemed shameful, often feel trapped in abusive marriages,” she said. “How do we hope to achieve peace in the world when there is no peace in the home?” she asked the congregants? Tshekiso said it was important to recognise that where there is abuse, the whole family including children, need to be counseled instead of just the couple only.

This is because children who grow up in an abusive environment grow up with the idea that “this is a proper way to interact.” “We have to get almost indignant about violence in the family and not justify it in any way,” she said. *Jane is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the victim

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