‘My world crumbled when I found out my abusive boyfriend infected me with HIV’

(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES).
(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES).

Sometimes the hardest lessons are learnt through experience. No matter how much people try to caution you against someone, the only person who can pull themselves out of a situation is you.

This is what happened to me. It all started when I met my first boyfriend. I was 17, naïve and I thought I was ready for love. He was handsome, caring, and about 10 years older than me. I knew from that day he was going to be my first – my everything.

THE BIG DAY

On my 18th birthday, I decided I was going to sleepover at his place. In my head I was ready to be a woman and he was the guy I had picked. I felt like I was ready and he had been so good to me that I wasn’t even scared. And the night was amazing. And for months after that, he was the perfect gentleman. But one day, he showed his true colours.

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THE REAL HIM

I don’t know what really happened, but months later, my dream guy started changing. It was little things at first. He would call me stupid and be angry if I asked about his whereabouts. One night, this man that I loved, hit me. I was so shocked I couldn’t even cry.

All I could do was stare at him in shock and go to sleep. The next morning he apologised and promised to never do it again. I believed him, so I forgave him. It was mostly because I loved him.

A MONSTER

Soon he was hitting me all the time. It went from slaps on the cheek to brutal beatings daily. It got so bad that I would often avoid going home to my parents because I was bruised all the time. To top it off, he cheated on me and wouldn’t even try to hide it.

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I never told anyone because I didn’t want to lose my handsome man. I had already painted him as this perfect guy who did everything right. And I didn’t want to shatter that illusion for my friends and family, even though it was shattered for me. One day I went to the clinic because I had vaginal discharge and they asked me do an HIV test. The results were positive. I couldn’t believe it.

My world crumbled in front of me. My handsome man had ruined my beauty, or at least that’s how I viewed it. After getting the results, I did not speak to anyone for a week. This was before I went to his house to get my stuff and I found him with a girl younger than me.

I couldn’t let her be me. So I told her all about what he had done to me, all he had put me through. I wanted her to make a decision with all the facts, so I shared my story with her. She was the first person I told and I hope I helped her. Today I speak openly about my status and how I was infected to those around me. I pray my speaking out will help others too.

*Not her real name