Woman lives with permanent scars from domestic abuse
By Julia Ndlela
Hlengiwe Mpofu (24) lives in Pumula south, a high density suburb in Bulawayo metropolitan province. Hlengiwe says for two years, she endured the violent beatings and insults from her now ex-boyfriend. Although the relationship ended, Hlengiwe says she still carries physical and emotional scars from that episode of her life.
“When I met Josh, he appeared as a decent young man and I quickly fell for him. We had great moments together and I was prepared to spend the rest of my life with him. However as time went on, I started to notice that Josh easily got angry whenever we had misunderstandings,” says Hlengiwe.
At first Hlengiwe says she assumed that Josh was just jealous or overprotective. She adds that she had grown to understand that every relationship has challenges and that with time these challenges would be ironed out.
“Our misunderstandings started to get more frequent. Josh wanted to control all aspects of my life even though we were not yet married. Before I met him, I had several friends from our neighbourhood. Josh did not like me to interact with my friends. Each time I greeted any of my friends, Josh would openly show his dislike of them and I ended up losing my friends. I always prayed that things would improve,” says Hlengiwe.
Hlengiwe says one day she had a heated argument with Josh and he violently attacked her with open hands and booted feet. She adds that the attack resulted in some injuries that required medical attention.
“He punched me until my left eye was swollen. He kicked me on my chest and I felt sharp pain on my ribs. He punched on my eyes and I blacked out. Even up to now, my ribs are still painful and one of my eyes has problems emanating from the injury,” says Hlengiwe.
After this attack, Hlengiwe says she decided to immediately terminate the relationship. She says she did not report the case to the police because she felt that she was not prepared to be questioned about the intimate details of her relationship. But she reveals that she was living in fear and was always on the lookout for Josh.
One day after about six months, Hlengiwe says she met Josh while she was walking with a former classmate. She says Josh did not talk to her but looked agitated.
“Later that day, he started to send text messages on my mobile phone. He wanted to know the person he had seen me walking with. He said that he still loved me and that I should not disrespect him by getting into relationships with other men,” says Hlengiwe.
After this encounter and realising that her life was in danger, Hlengiwe says she finally decided to engage law enforcement agents. She says she was told to go to the courts to get a Peace Order against her ex-boyfriend. However she reveals that she has not gathered enough courage to get the Peace Order.
Obtaining a Peace Order is contained in the Domestic Violence Act [Chapter 5:16], but many victims like Hlengiwe do not use this route to protect themselves from abuse.
Sthembinkosi Moyo (42) works for a local non-governmental organisation in Bulawayo metropolitan province. Sithembinkosi says she has seen similar cases in her line of work when she tried to help women get back on their feet after experiencing abuse.
“The best thing that a victim of domestic abuse should do is to get a Peace Order. It is foolhardy to take abuse lightly because one may end up being killed. The worst mistake is actually taking these abusers for granted,” says Sithembinkosi.