You are here

UNFPA Botswana is pleased to announce our #16Days campaign, which will run during this year’s #16Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (25 Nov – 10 Dec). Through this campaign, we will introduce you to first-hand accounts of survivors of gender violence from the “I” Stories series, produced by Gender Links. These stories are real experiences of women in Botswana and give a glimpse of the horrors experienced by women on a daily basis. The women have a compelling desire to let the world know that abuse is real.

I’m a prisoner in my own home

My name is Mmandanakhwe and I’m 40 years old. I started dating Dingalo in 2003. He was 45 years old then. I became pregnant in 2004 but unfortunately I had a miscarriage.

We then decided to buy a car so I started selling clothes to help raise funds for this. At the time he was a bus driver. When he bought the car I was surprised because he hadn’t told me that we had reached our goal. He didn’t even ask me which car I wanted. He just made the decision by himself. When I confronted him about it he said I was a burden he couldn’t carry anymore. With the car came new difficulties.

My man started staying out all night and spending less time with me. He told me he was trying to heal from the loss of the baby and that he was looking for a woman who could give him a baby! All this convinced me to move back with my family. I vowed never to get into another relationship.

A few years later I relocated to the city and met a man who changed my life. He was so good to me and very supportive. It was only later that I realized he was younger than me but it wasn’t a big deal at the time because he really loved me. However, I later found out that our age difference was of 12 years. This shocked me but he convinced me it was irrelevant.

My son had a hard time accepting it though. He was drinking and doing all manners of bad things. Eventually he failed at school and said it was because I was dating a younger guy and he was getting teased about it. Dingalo became more paranoid with time. He even pretended that I had infected him with HIV so that I would feel guilty and not leave him. This stunt was the last straw. Any love I’d had for him disappeared. I have tried to chase him away but he won’t budge. He stopped helping me financially and this is now a burden.

He has now started beating me. He won’t let me leave the house without his permission. One time his beatings landed me in the hospital. My family was very worried so I lodged a complaint with the police. I was tired of the cycle of abuse so again, I broke up with him. I tried to make him see why; he’d beaten me and left permanent scars; he’d stabbed my hand; both our families disapproved and the main reason being that I no longer loved him. I think it hurt him a lot.

Unfortunately he’s still in my life. He refuses to leave. I’ve tried bringing him with me for counselling but he refuses. My life is very miserable right now. He controls me completely and won’t even let me plait people at home because he thinks they’re there to introduce me to other men. The most hurtful thing is that my child refuses to come see me until I get rid of Dingalo.