He beat me up on our wedding night. I should have left him then, but stayed. That was my first mistake. I'd married a violent, angry man whom I thought I loved. I was beaten regularly over the next ten years, now still carry the scars on my scalp, fractured ribs and broken hand.
Eventually I grabbed my courage in my fists and ran out of the house screaming. It shamed me to be taken to the A&E (Accident & Emergency) department in a police van, bleeding, shivering and crying, a professional woman amongst Saturday night drunks, ashamed that my torn eyebrow was being stitched together by my own colleague at the hospital where I was a nurse.
I never went home again.
Forty five years later I am still unable to shake off the cloud of guilt of my second mistake. He's a good father, I thought, left my son with him to be abused in turn. Took my daughter and did not notice ….. The guilt is heavy.
I found a place to stay, continued to work, work, work. I cry now, because my own needs and anger blinded me. When my daughter turned twenty one she told me about her abuse…
Then came some light. I discovered Marxist theory through the informal education system within the African National Congress (ANC), the liberation movement in South Africa. We taught each other, discovering ways to topple the evil system of Apartheid. I studied during that time, became an attorney, moved to another part of the country, continued to do grassroots organising with women, continued to fight for the millions of black children struggling to survive on the malnutrition of Apartheid. Defending political prisoners gave me a sense of direction. I was at last becoming whole - I thought.
Then another big mistake. I trusted a woman who betrayed me to the security police. I spent time in detention, but managed to get away. I ran, leaving my son in Johannesburg to work, my daughter in a boarding school. I was not to see my children again for more than two years, after I had eventually managed to get to the United Kingdom as a political refugee and was granted asylum.
I did come through with some real gifts, though. My daughter and son and I have never stopped talking with each other. Through the years we managed to be a loving family.
Though the complicated fabric which is my life is woven with lows of bad decisions and hard outcomes, it also has golden threads of strong faith and love. That fabric enables me now to spend my time working for other women and children who are still being abused, bleeding and walking through dark tunnels of dispair. Through my experiences I am enabled. My family and friends support me. And in WorldPulse I have the tools to find solutions to help relieve suffering.
I'm indeed a lucky girl!
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