At first I wasn’t too sure how I felt about this campaign .
Yes, I honestly do believe victims of abuse and violence need to speak out but at the same time , as the mother of 5 sons and the financee of an amazing partner, at what point do we stop generalising every male on this planet along side the men who hold women with no regard?
And, at the risk of many woman’s verbal attack…. where do you stop being a victim , deal with your past and grab life with the courage of a winner?
This is my story
My story sadly begins much younger than I realised.
Its a family thing
My parents married young and were a chaotic love affair of disaster.
When they weren’t shouting at each other, they were arguing about the other.
At 15, my parents chose to divorce.
Their reasoning long forgotten to my teenage brain but what I will never forget is the hell my sister and I endured for the next 9 months.
Their bickering and fighting quickly escalated into flying objects and forgotten children.
One particular afternoon I arrived home from writing an English exam at school. My parents lived in two separate homes, and I was shocked to see my father’s car.
It‘s a gun
As I entered the kitchen , the maleviolence
clung to the air. Screaming and shouting broke my confusion as I saw my father pointing his gun directly into my mother‘s face.
Her battered ,bloody body told a story far too familiar to us but never before had I seen such a maddening rage in my father’s eyes.
He was deaf to our pleas and at some point I grabbed a brass vase , crashing it on his temple. Knowing the weight of his wrath was about to turn to me but needing to do something, anything to save my mother.
The distraction was enough for her to flee.
He wildly searched for her and amazingly i found the strength to grab my younger sister, look my father in the face and tell him
‘shoot me if you must but I’m taking my sister somewhere safe’
The longest minutes of my life
With each step we took up that drive way I waited for a gun shot that would put end to my defiance. …
We stopped at a friends house and I asked her father if I could phone the police.
Calmly I relayed what had transpired.
I remember her dad telling me how brave I was …. I didn’t see it!
I had just asked the police to lock away my own father !
Nine months on the run
For the following nine months we moved weekly. Staying and living like nomads. My mother was petrified. And naturally, we saw what a monster my father was and we were equally as scared.
I remember owning a denim bag and for nine months that was the sole amount of my belongings.
Bouncing from home to home. Friend to friend and relative to relative took its toll. My mother no longer cared. She lived in a distorted world of fear. Danger was all around her and she would wake in fits of anxiety and begin drowning her sorrows in any and all alcohol.
An uncles love
It was around this time we went to spend a week with my father’s brother.
I was too young and nieve to grasp exactly why my mother had to share his room and bed. She told us it was due to space.
One day , my mom and sister went out and I was alone. My uncle forcefully tried his way with me. His large hands grabbing at me as he thrust me on the bed, trying to release himself from the restriction of his clothing.
In fear I froze.
This was a relative. A man I should be able to trust.
Somewhere safe ….
The downstairs door opened and my sister called that they were back. He released me and told me he would tell my father where we were if I said anything about what he had done.
I got up , went to the bathroom .
A feeling of revolt deep within me,vowing that I would protect my sister from this man, no matter what.
I quietly hid my secret and that night pushed a wardrobe in front of the door.
Two days later we moved again…..
A life of violence
Months later and so many more insidents between my parents we were finally found and removed from my mother’s care.
My father had by now moved in with a woman and her son.
Life became a misconstrued roller coaster of broken bones and blood. Alcohol thickly mixed into weekends of abuse.
Each weekend as Friday aproached , us kids would make plans to not be home to witness broken jaws and emergency hospital trips.
A man like my father
At 17 I fell pregnant with my boyfriend of two years. We were young . I was not interested in marriage from the start and we parted when Tbear was just a few months old.
Two years later we reunited and went on to have a total of six wonderful children.
Throughout our marriage there were verbal threats and violent outbursts but I never once saw that I was married to a replica of my father.
Although he had hit me a few times and broken my finger fighting for keys out my hand when I tried to get him to pay the rent and not gamble, I honestly believed it was my fault.
If I’d just ignored it…or kept quiet.
In Tbears Matric year, he was robbed at gun point. Our whole lively hood was in the Buckie they hijacked. All his tools were gone and as we now had no transport and no way to do the work coming in , his own business had to close.
I thought he would look for another job, but slowly he sold off our belongings. Before long we were evicted and needed to find a new home.
An attack on my child
The new house was cold and still had the original concrete flooring so typical of old railway houses.
One day sbear was defiant to his father who would lie in bed all day and spend money on cigarettes instead of decent food for the children.
He grabbed my child by the throat, pushing him against the wall all the while screaming like a madman in his face.
The last straw
That was the last straw!
It was one thing to treat me badly, a complete different story to attack my children.
I grabbed him, and pounded my fists on him. Screaming of what a useless man he was. Months of hatred and oppression came spewing from my mouth.
He followed me back inside and seemed subdued.
I turned and felt a shove like lightening to my back. In agony I fell to the floor where his foot continued to kick the lower edge of my spine.
I remember yelling to my children to go to the neighbours.
I also remember dragging myself up to the couch , screaming how I’d see him rot in a cell, tears of pain falling freely from my eyes.
That day he ran.
He went to his mother for a steak dinner.
When he came home I was long gone.
A mothers love
People don’t understand why I gave him a chance after what he did. They criticised me for staying.
Have you ever looked into your children’s eyes knowing all they want is their parents and knowing your love for them was large enough to endure all things ?
I didn’t want my children to go through the divorce hell I’d experienced.
I was also dependent on their father financially…How would I live and support my children if he wasn’t there?
But most importantly, after years of hearing how awful I was. How ugly . How useless and how no one would want me with six children, I believed I couldn’t do anything.
The next two years were no better. The stories read like a bad novel.
In those two years I build myself up amidst his chaos and crumbling tornados of drama.
I started a parenting page, began submitting my poetry and writings and joined as parenting expert to a parent website.
And then the day came …
One morning he refused to give me money to buy the children food.
It was the last push I needed.
I’d regained my confidence. I believed in myself. I had found a support network and I told him, after more fights, I wanted a divorce.
Three months later, and hour upon hour of senseless fights, i left him in JHB and started my new life…..
It wasn‘t easy
It wasn’t always easy. And as with all journeys it had its pros and cons.
Those who lost the most were my children. I can only hope they understand why I found the courage to end their chaos.
One day I hope they never need to write a version past their parents mistakes.