Poverty binds women to abusive relationships

By Bekezela Mguni

Verita Ncube (43) says she ran away from her husband after living in a tumultuous relationship for ten years. During the subsistence of the marriage, Verita says she was physically, sexually and psychologically abused.

Verita and her husband, Mthabisi Moyo (42) lived in Mawabeni, 50 kilometres south of Bulwayo city, along the Bulawayo — Beitbridge road. The two did not have children together although each had children from previous relationships. Verita says before her marriage to Mthabisi, she worked as a housemaid to support her children. When she got married, she thought that her partner would support her in taking care of her children. However she now realises that it was a big mistake.

“For the ten years that we were together, our relationship was embroiled in violence. Mthabisi abused me emotionally, insulting me in front of the children. Mthabisi belittled me in front of other community members without any provocation,” says Verita.

A few months after she got married, Verita says she embarked on buying and selling vegetables to raise money to support her family.

“I used to go and sell vegetables at the nearby shopping centre. Whenever Mthabisi found men at my vegetable stall, he would insult me and accuse me of having extra marital relationships. I ended up isolating myself from the outside world because l could not handle the embarrassment,” says Verita.

Verita blames herself for staying in an abusive relationship for the sake of expecting financial support for her children.

“I turned a blind eye to Mthabisi’s insults and disrespect for the sake of my children. Mthabisi had promised me that he would help me to raise my children. I paid dearly for the naivety because not only did Mthabisi fail to support my children, he also infected me with the Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV). But it was actually him who had infected me,” says Verita.

Verita says when she and Mthabisi were diagonised with HIV, their relationship further deteriorated.

‘He blamed me for infecting him with HIV. He would bluntly tell me that he did not want her anymore. I proposed that we use condoms but he was completely against that idea. I had no option but to agree to have unprotected sex with him just to prevent violent quarrels,” says Verita.

In an attempt to resolve her marital problems, Verita says she engaged her husband’s family to mediate their differences.

“Each time I engaged his family, he would behave normally for a short while. He would then resume his violence. I was his punching bag. Sometimes he would accuse me of cheating if I refuse to have unprotected sex. There seemed to be no solution to the problem,” says Verita.

In May 2021, Verita says she decided to flee from her violent marriage.

“I could no longer stand the violence. I now know that I could have been killed by Mthabisi. I now have a fear of men because of the way Mthabisi treated me,” says Verita.

Although Verita did not report the violence to the police, she feels that what happened to her was unacceptable and that she learned a big lesson from her experience.

“In future, once I see signs of violence in my relationship, I will quickly engage law enforcement agents or terminate the relationship before further violence,” says Verita.

Creative Centre for Communication and Development, Zimbabwe