OPINION | Leave even if it is just a threat to slap you, I left and it saved my life

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Illustration photo by Getty images
Illustration photo by Getty images

“Did you really leave him for threatening to beat you?” I was once asked. I was in a relationship with a man for almost seven years, and throughout our relationship, he would threaten to beat me up whenever we had heated arguments. “I will f@# you up one day for addressing me like a child,” he would say.

Then one day, when he couldn’t reach me on my phone after trying several times, he decided to camp outside the building where I used to live.

I was working as a cashier at a clothing store, and we had stock-taking that day. I was always unreachable while at work, and he knew this very well. As to what had happened to upset him that day left me puzzled. 

I got off from my then manager’s car who was dropping all his female colleagues off due to obvious safety reasons. It was just after 21:00, if my memory serves me well. I did not even notice my then boyfriend leaning by the entrance gate outside my flat.

I just recall a huge bang on the windscreen, and I immediately thought we were being hijacked. I stayed in Sunnyside, the infamous side of Pretoria. So you can understand why a car hijacking came to mind. 

READ MORE | Here's an escape plan if you feel trapped in an abusive relationship and need to exit for good

He then approached the driver, who was my then manager and started punching him. I was so terrified all I could do was just stand there. Before I could even want to scream for help, he pulled me by my braids.

I remember him calling me all sorts of names that would require me to book for a comprehensive dental care appointment with my dentists, just from uttering the words out of my mouth.

The look in his eyes terrified me. He went from being a man I loved, ever so deeply, to a monster who was about to f@# me up, just as he had threatened before. 

My manager pleaded with him to calm down and tried to explain the situation. I think at that point he knew who this person was, given how he was addressing me. He let me go and went for the windscreen. My manager lost his cool, and the entrance-way was transformed into a boxing ring at once. I ran for my life, even as fear tried to cripple my two left feet. 

“I won the fight with your boyfriend,” a text came in from him (ex-boyfriend) shortly after I safely got in my flat. 

READ MORE | Change what South African men think of women to combat their violent behaviour

Irritated and still terrified, I responded: “We are done. I never want to see you again.” I was embarrassed and ashamed by what had happened, more so because I had to go to work the following day to face my manager. 

To cut a long story short, I left him. He threatened to commit suicide, promised to marry me, pleaded with my sister to talk to me on his behalf, threatened to f@# me up again, bought flowers. The list is endless. I left and never looked back. I could have died, and an innocent man could have lost his life as well that day. 

Yet, I had friends and some family members who kept asking why I left a guy who was promising marriage and who “did not even beat you up badly,” they would say. 

I left, and I have been happier since. 

Needless to say, I paid for my then manager’s windscreen from the meagre salary I received from the clothing store for the remainder of my stay there. It would be in “please can you buy me lunch today” requests to “don’t forget to deposit that R200 in my account month-end.” Another form of abuse you would say, but one I allowed to happen because the incident spared my life. 

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As the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign is almost coming to an end, I urge you to leave. Leave a man who threatens to raise their hand on you, your children, or any other person close to you. 

Disown family members and friends who question your decision to leave. This is how we should move from awareness to accountability, as the theme for the 16 Days Activism suggests. 

Nosicelo Mtebeni was brutally murdered, her body cut in pieces and dumped like it meant nothing. It could have been me, but I left and lived to see another day. 

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# 

Were you able to leave an abusive relationship? Tell us your story here.

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