• Tumelo Muteme is a W24 reader who endured abuse at the hands of a man she loved.
  • She met the father of her child in 2008 and at the time believed he was her soul mate.
  • The first time he abused her was three years into the relationship and shortly after the birth of their child.
  • She hoped it would be a one-time occurrence but the abuse worsened.
  • After eight years of escalating abuse she finally broke free, which caused him to stalk her until he found a new partner.

Here's Tumelo's story:

It was three years into our relationship that his mask fell off and I realised that my little fairy-tale had just turned into my worst nightmare.

I had just given birth to our daughter when he slapped me for the first time and I thought it would be once-off but little did I know this was just the beginning and my life from then onwards would be filled with pain and abuse.

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I would get slapped for talking back, asking him where he was or not answering my phone. He would blame his violent behaviour on me. I made him do it; he used to say. And I, unfortunately, fell for his excuses and truly believed I was to blame.

The more I kept quiet and stayed, the more the violence escalated. It went from a slap in the face to being punched and kicked in the stomach.

At some point I found out that he had been seeing someone else long-term while we were in a relationship. When I confronted him about it and told him I wanted to break off the relationship, he got so upset that he strangled me until I fainted in his car. I don't know how long I was passed out but when I got conscious I ran home. I was scared to tell my family what had happened.

READ MORE: 'I punched a man in the face for pinching my bum and was called violent for it' - Why do women who fight back against abusers get backlash?

On another occasion, he chased me on the pavement with my car and ran me over after a disagreement about school fees for our child. Fortunately I didn't sustain serious injuries.

In early 2014 I started to realise that this is not the life I want to live and he would never change. I also realised that I was being controlled and not loved and began to rethink what love really meant.

To educate and prepare myself for my exit, I started reading about abuse, abusers and narcissists. I left the relationship during April 2014 after he banged my face against my steering wheel and kicking me in the stomach.

READ MORE: Abuse increases during lockdowns: Women stuck between 2 pandemics, coronavirus and gender-based violence 

Walking away was not easy. He resorted to stalking me because he no longer had access to me. He would even come to my workplace to scare me - on one occasion he arrived at my work and tried to pull me into his car but I managed to get away.

For safety purposes, I got a restraining order and moved in with my brother. Even then he would show up near my brother's house unannounced. Early one morning I saw him coming out of the nearby veld wearing a blanket - I think he slept there watching me overnight. The stalking only stopped when he found a new partner. Though I finally felt free, I knew another woman would fall victim to what I had gone through.

READ MORE: Italian court that ruled a woman is “too unattractive” to be a rape victim highlights how ineffectively our justice systems handle rape

It took me a long time to unlearn everything that seemed “normal” for those eight years. Today I openly speak about my experience as a way to motivate women of all ages to leave these relationships. I hope that my story moves people to play their part in ending violence against women.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact one of the organisations below:  

Gender-based violence Command Centre: “Please call me” facility: *120*7867# Emergency line: 0800 428 428 

POWA helpline: 011 642 4345 

SADAG has a WhatsApp counselling line that operates from 9am to 4pm: 076 882 2775 

To speak to a SADAG counsellor: 0800 567 567

Tears Foundation helpline: *134*7355# 

If you would like to share your story with us send an email to chatback@w24.co.za or send it here.

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