Staying in violent relationships is a recipe for disaster

By Bekezela Mguni

Sheila Moyo (28) says she is a victim of traditional customs that compels women to stay in abusive relationships for the sake of upholding family honour and for her children. Sheila says she lived with her abusive husband for three years and regrets that she did not leave earlier when the abuse started.

“Problems in my marriage started soon after eloping to my boyfriend, Busani Mdlongwa (33) after I had fallen pregnant in 2019. We had been dating for almost a year and I was madly in love with him and I thought he loved me too. A few months after I had moved in with him, we started to have some squabbles,” says Sheila.

Sheila who resides at Habani Township, 48 kilometres South of Bulawayo metropolitan city says her husband never took his marriage seriously. She reveals that Busani continued to spend time out and dating other girls. She says she initially tried to ignore his behaviour, but realised that her marriage was heading towards disaster.

“At first I thought I was overreacting because of hormonal changes due to my pregnancy. When I confronted him, he flatly told me to leave if I was not happy about his way of life. I was furious and engaged my family for help,” says Sheila.

Roping in the family did not help much as Sheila says her husband was evasive. She says Busani would apologise and promise to be a better person but would revert back to his wicked ways.

“Sometimes when we had an argument he would become moody for days and l would end up apologising even if he was wrong. He was not the violent type but he made me feel useless and always wanted me to beg for his love and attention. Once his moods were over, he would start to provoke me with stories about his girlfriends and how beautiful they were. I felt useless, ugly and inadequate. I would spend hours crying. I felt powerless to do anything,” says Sheila.

Sheila says she then resorted to stalking her husband’s girlfriends physically and on social media platforms to scare them away from her husband. She says she tried everything she could to ensure that her marriage remained intact. She adds that she did all that to make her parents proud of raising a well-mannered child who had grown up to have her own family.

“All l ever wanted was to earn respect from the community and give my child a decent home. Women who leave their husbands are considered to be loose in our community. Even if the spouse is violent, women are encouraged to be strong and remain in the relationship,” says Sheila.

After three years of marriage, Sheila says she decided that enough was enough. She says she did not consult anyone but simply packed her bags to go and live with her friend in Bulawayo metropolitan city.

Creative Centre for Communication and Development, Zimbabwe