Rosinah Maswanganye speaks about her abusive past during the International Day for Families event at Mabopane Indoor Sports Centre yesterday.
THEY say family is not just an important unit; it’s everything However, for domestic abuse victim Rosinah Maswanganye that proverb proved to be false.

Maswanganye said during the International Day of Families commemoration at Mabopane Indoor Sports Centre yesterday it was her own family, or rather her husband, who had betrayed her.

Yesterday was the International Day of Families, a day set aside to reflect on the importance the international community attaches to families. It views families as among the most basic units of society, and a key roleplayer in shaping situations of the world.

Maswanganye, who served seven years in prison for killing her husband, took to the podium in a packed hall to warn women against living silently with abuse.

She said that because of her blind endurance in a toxic relationship, she had ended up taking matters into her own hands and had to pay with prison time.

“I know and understand that we are celebrating family day today, but please let us not celebrate toxic families. Instead, we should try to liberate ourselves, so we can build better communities,” she told people present.

She explained that for years she had endured all forms of abuse, but kept mum for the sake of keeping a perfect family. She said it started with her husband poking her in the eye. A slap now and then followed and soon she was being used as a punchbag regularly. Finally, she was stabbed with a beer bottle.

“Little did he know that when he kept on abusing me the anger was brewing in me,” Maswanganye said.

It was after years of repeated and tormented abuse that the straw broke the camel’s back.

But she said that before she took matters into her own hands she exhausted all avenues. “If you can, go to a safe place as soon as possible. Sometimes, calling the police first is not an option as leaving the abusive space is a priority.” She said if they reported the incident it had to be to the nearest police station. And they had to go with someone they trusted.

“While this may be difficult to think of or do in the moment, in the case of sexual abuse, do not throw away your clothes or wash yourself, no matter how much you want to. This may prove to be important evidence,” Maswanganye said..

The Department of Social Development’s Thembeni Mhlongo said the International Day of Families provided an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them.

“In many countries, this day is an opportunity to highlight different areas of interest and importance to families,” she said.