Finding My Own Peace

Sharon Makunura
Posted October 9, 2018 from Zimbabwe

I was a victim of domestic abuse.  I didn’t leave the relationship soon enough, neither do I publicly speak about it. 

I didn’t recognize it as abuse at the time.  We were both in college, and we were young.  I cannot even now recall how it started, but eventually it fell into a predictable pattern.  Things would be good between us.  Then we would have a disagreement.  I cannot even remember what the disagreements would be about.  Under pressure from the strain of our relationship, he would suffer terrible migraines.  I would feel sorry for him, do everything in my power to nurse him back to health.  We would then re-pledge our love for each other, then things would be back to normal.  Soon enough the cycle got more frequent and more vicious. 

He began to collapse after intense migraines.  He would recover after a little while, claiming severe headache.  After a while he would collapse long enough to need to visit the clinic.  Eventually he collapsed long enough to need hospitalization.  That happened the first time I wanted to break up with him.  I was dissatisfied with the relationship.  So he collapsed, had to be taken to hospital and of course I was unofficially his next of kin.  I called his family and made arrangements. 

Underneath all that I felt cheated.  I felt burdened by a responsibility I did not want.  Meeting his family? Supervising his medical issues?  I wasn’t married to the guy, and I resented having to do all that.  But I did it anyway.  I couldn’t walk out on him right when he needed me.  He spent a night in hospital.  By the next day he was well on the road to recovery. 

He insisted on buying me a huge teddy bear to thank me for caring for him while he was sick.  I thought it was unnecessary, I didn’t really want it.  But he bought it anyway.  He even wanted me to talk to his family so they could thank me.  I felt smothered, trapped.  I couldn't leave.  People were constantly saying how kind I had been to him, what a great couple we were.  No one should judge anyone's relationship.  You never know what is really under the surface.

The cycle continued.  One time an ex got in touch.  I was in no way interested in him, but I was apprehensive to confide this incident to my boyfriend, seeing how his moods were very erratic.  As fate would have it, he found out anyway.  He was predictably furious.  He took a stone and smashed his hand with it.  Another time we had a disagreement while driving around.  He drove at high speed in reverse down a busy road.  I was frightened.

The relationship was all about pacifying him.  By now we had been together two years.  I was now in an internship away from college.  I met someone new.  I met lots of new guys actually, and the thought of having options was nice for a change.  Again something went wrong.  He tried to find me once and couldn’t locate me.  I lied about where I had been.  He exploded.  He was walking me home.  He raised his hand and hit me.  In the street.  I was shocked, scared.  He apologized, I took the blame.  Anything to get me home safe.

Once I was home I sent him a text.  It was over.  I thought it was over.  Then he turned up at my job the next day.  He said he only wanted to talk.  We walked out to the parking lot.  He had a car there, and … he said there was a gun in the trunk.  I didn’t wait to see it.  I ran away in fright, screaming my head off.  (Later I discovered this incident ruined my chances of getting  full time employment at this company.)

That evening he turned up at my house.  He came to tell on me to my mother.  He told tale after tale, and asked her to talk some sense into me.  My mother suggested we go for counselling to one of my aunts.  I said okay.  I walked him out of the house.  I went to open the gate, he reversed out of the yard.  I stopped him at the gate, told him this has gone too far.  This was the last straw.  I never want to see him again.  He drove away erratically.

I sat down with my mother.  I explained what I could, but insisted that I wanted nothing more to do with him.  We drove to his house.  His entire family was there.  He and his brother tried to intimidate me,denying that he had done all those bad things. His father cried. 

I walked away from him that day. I went for counselling.  Then I worked on moving away from the terrible memories.  People would ask why I let it go on for so long, and I didn't have an answer.  I had always been on the brink of leaving him, and it had never quite worked out.  Perhaps that final escalation of violence had reminded me what I was worth, and what I needed from the relationship.

At the end of all this, I contend one of the greatest ways to ensure security for myself is to have lots of confidence.  When I determined in my mind that I wasn't going to put up with the disrespect and abuse, I literally could not take it another day.  For most young women this is a difficult point to reach.  We have so much optimism, so much fear of the unknown rather than the bad that lives with us every day.

Women need to be encouraged to place more value on themselves than their relationships.  Culturally, there is more pressure for women to maintain relationships than for men.  There is more shame and humiliation for victims of abuse.  To feel safe, women need to feel worthwhile.  I advocate for programs and initiatives that promote self-esteem and self-worth for women.  Emotional and mental fortitude are invaluable in coping with the threats that women face on a daily basis.  From when they are little girls, someone needs to be looking out for them , helping them create their own internal safe spaces, telling them they are valuable.  From this they can draw the strength they need to identify, avoid and combat threats to them.  

 

This story was submitted in response to The Future of Security is Women .

Comments 12

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Jill Langhus
Oct 10, 2018
Oct 10, 2018

Hi Sharon,

I'm so sorry you had to endure this tumultuous and violent relationship. I'm so glad you got away from it, though, when you did. I totally agree that women and girls are taught to be pleasers and even put more value on making the relationships work rather than on themselves. I can totally relate to this, and the cycle needs to stop. We are valuable; we are worthy. We deserve better.

Good luck with your story submission.

Sharon Makunura
Oct 10, 2018
Oct 10, 2018

Thank you !

Jill Langhus
Oct 10, 2018
Oct 10, 2018

You're welcome, dear!

Fosah Frinwie Loveline Muma
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Absolutely my dear, a lot of women need to be encouraged to place value on themselves before any relationships especially with men. My policy has been to value myself first.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Hi Sharon,

Your message is so important. There are so many layers of responsibility we take on as women, on top of the social pressures to stay in relationships. Congratulations on sorting through it all, freeing yourself, and speaking out so that others can be encouraged by your words. Illness of a partner adds a whole new level of confusion and it often is used to scare and/or guilt. People outside of the situation judge and we expect ourselves, especially as women, to take care of partners. I have had some experience with this dilemma and am so glad you have written about it. Your description in how you reached the conclusion that you had a right to get away will no doubt help others.

ARREY- ECHI
Oct 15, 2018
Oct 15, 2018

Hi Sharon,
So sorry you had to go through this. I am glad you walked out of it.
That guy was a big time manipulator.
Women are constantly pressurized to be the ones to shoulder anything about a relationship working or not.
I totally agree with you about helping young girls especially develop confidence in themselves.
Hugs to you, Arrey

Marie Abanga
Oct 18, 2018
Oct 18, 2018

Dear Sharon,

Hmm you had tried oh. I can feel you. And are you even sure he wasn't faking all that collapsing? Glad you found the strength within to move and turn the page to such a tumultuous past.

Glad you now share to inspire and motivate others

Hugs

Marie

Theresa Takafuma
Oct 20, 2018
Oct 20, 2018

Dear Sharon

Thank you for sharing your story. It got me thinking about the amount of abuse women go through in the name of "through thick and thin even when you're not happy". I can very much relate as I have seen sisters going through the same and losing their voices in the process.
Thank you for being brave enough to leave whilst you could.
You are an inspiration.

Love, light and hugs

Theresa

Empowered101
Nov 27, 2018
Nov 27, 2018

Affirmations of self love to you wonderful lady. You words and compassion for emotional well being is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Mbabazi
Aug 22
Aug 22

Hi Sharon,
Your story is so challenging! Thanks for holding on and giving him love anyway!
Although he can't tell now, but what i am sure of is that you inspired him in many different ways.
Some men do pretend that they are learning from us.

I am so sorry for that tragedy! It is always good to wait for the original, someone who deserves your time, your heart and your compliments.

Regards,
Mbabazi

Sharon Makunura
Aug 23
Aug 23

Thanks Mbabazi, I do hope I may have inspired him in some way. And I am glad I managed to walk away.

Mbabazi
Aug 26
Aug 26

Sure, and that is the most important thing! Hope you are happy today with your new move.
All the best my sister!

Mbabazi