After escaping being abused her boyfriend, a woman living and working at the Saartjie Baartman Centre said she now feels she can overcome anything. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - A woman is living and working at the Saartjie Baartman Centre after escaping abuse said she met her boyfriend while working in the same company.

They moved in together after a while because they had what she felt as a caring and understanding relationship. Her contract later ended and she started looking for a new job. Then the verbal and emotional abuse began, until it became physical and he broke her jaw. Since then, she has been living at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for women and children.

The centre is a beneficiary of next year’s Cape Town Big Walk.

“Since I’m here I feel I do have power and I can overcome anything,” she said.

“I will never let any man abuse me again.” For her, ending it is “to speak up, to talk about it and to spread the word that women must not let their partners bring them down.

“Go to the police and report the crime. Whether it is verbal, emotional or physical, abuse is abuse.”

First he was stalking her, the woman explained. “He didn’t want me to work, go to my family or have any friends.” Then when she got a job things got more “hectic”.

“Finally I’m going to leave him,” she thought, “but every time he threatened to kill himself.”

The first time he issued such a threat, he wrote a message to his family.

“His family thought I was the bad one; they always put the blame on me. They asked me what I did to him.”

After a while she lost her new job because of all the times she couldn’t go to work because he had beaten her, or the times she was late because of the fights.

“I was ashamed to talk about it, I was scared that people would see him as a quiet person and what they would say and who they would believe.”

After escaping being abused her boyfriend, a woman living and working at the Saartjie Baartman Centre said she now feels she can overcome anything. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

She didn’t tell anybody, until this June when he beat her so badly he broke her jaw, cheekbone and teeth. After a week in hospital and following various operations, she went to the police to ask them to arrest him if he did it again. 

“That was my biggest mistake,” she said. “I thought maybe he’s going to be scared to beat me again and he will change, and then everything will go back to normal.” But when she returned to the house he was gone.

“He has contacted me to ask me to come back and apologise,” she said.

“Here they teach us that we have to forgive and forget, not to go back to your perpetrator but to heal inside,” she said.

Cape Argus