My deep regret

Question

I fell in love with a girl eight years ago and she was very much in love with me too. We were together for two years, but things became complicated and the relationship didn’t last. Part of the problem was she was sexually abused by her dad.

He was a dangerous man and neither of us was brave enough to do anything about it. I thought about reporting the abuse but I was scared for my life and didn’t believe the police could help so we just ignored it. Now I think about this a lot and feel guilty. I was only 18 but I feel I should have done more to help this girl. Is there anything I can do now?

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Answer

Even though something very wrong was happening you were both young and it wasn’t easy for either of you to deal with such an issue. You mustn’t feel guilty that you didn’t do something then. Rest assured that if the girl is willing to press charges against her father now she can still do so and you can support her through all that.

 The abuse can be brought to the fore and this man can still pay for what he did to her. She needs to undergo counselling for what she went through if she didn’t get any help before. Trying to get in contact with her would be a good place to start.

Talk to her and see what life has been like for her. Bring up the possibility of pressing charges against her father and see if that is something she is willing to do. If she doesn’t want to press charges you must respect her decision. It’s clear your conscience is bothering you because you didn’t do something about it back then, so get in touch with her and talk about it so you can have peace.  

Question

I want my son to have my name

When we were still on good terms, I paid compensation of R9 000 to my ex’s family so that my son could take my surname, but this never happened. Now he’s turning five in September and I want him to use my surname when he starts Grade R in 2019. My ex is refusing to change his surname and I’m no longer on good terms with her or her family. Is there anything I can do?  

READ MORE: "I’ve stayed in an abusive relationship for 5 years – how do I tell my parents?"

Answer

It’s a good thing you want to do for your son, so he can know his roots and have a sense of belonging. It’s not clear if there was any written agreement between you and the family stating that if you paid the money the family would allow your son to take your surname – if that is the case it would make your case stronger.

In some cultures, this is allowed if you pay damages, even if you and the mother of the child aren’t legally married.

I suggest you ask your elders to talk to your ex’s family about this. If this fails then you can seek the assistance of a family counselor who can mediate the situation. A counselor can highlight the advantages your son will have if he takes your surname.

Unfortunately, this can only happen with the mother’s consent. If she agrees, your ex will have to go with you to your nearest branch of the Department of Home Affairs and you will have to take the child’s birth certificate and immunisation card with you, as well as her identity document and your identity document. There is also a fee you’ll have to pay for a new birth certificate to be issued. 

Question

She's in my space

I’m 25 and live with my parents. My partner also moved in with us and now she doesn’t want to go back to her home.

We don’t have enough space and I need time on my own as well. I’ve tried talking to her about it but she just gets angry and threatens to dump me. What can I do? 

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Answer

 It seems your partner doesn’t understand why you’re not willing to let her continue living with your parents. If that has been the case for a while it sounds like this arrangement shouldn’t have been made in the first place or there should have been a plan between you and your partner to make clear it was a temporary arrangement.

She needs to understand it’s not your house and she’s not entitled to live with you. I suggest you ask your parents to assist you in this matter. Perhaps they can talk to her and explain the issue of space. She probably also needs assurance that moving back to her home doesn’t mean the end of your relationship