I wake up shivering on the bathroom floor. I catch a glance of myself in a mirror. I don’t recognise what I see. Is that me? It comes back to me. The angry red welt on my neck is from the belt that my husband used to drag me down the passage. I crawl to the shower and turn the taps on. I don’t care that the water is cold. It wakes me up. My children. They can’t see mommy like this. I wash the dried blood and mascara-tears from my face.
As I apply makeup to cover up the welt on my neck and the bruise below my left eye, I pull myself together. I get the kids up for school. I see the pain and sadness in their eyes. They know. The school bus arrives but I don’t let them go. This cannot happen again. I’ve found the strength to make the decision. I am leaving and my kids are coming with me.
I phone the MPLL lifeline. My hands are trembling. I am petrified. Wow. The empathy I receive from the consultant is unbelievable. She listens. I struggle to control my crying. She understands. She explains. I live in the Northern suburbs. We decide on a hotel close to the city centre. I turn my cell phone off. I am paranoid my husband can track me.
A security guard arrives and drives the children and I to the hotel. I get a cell phone with airtime, which I use to phone my mother. I have some cash, but I also get a debit card preloaded with R500 cash. MPLL assists me with laying a case of domestic violence with the police. My mother has arranged a place for me and the kids to stay with a friend of hers so my husband can’t find us easily. After 3 nights at the hotel we move there.
I am so grateful to MPLL for the immediate assistance and for the counselling my children and I received thereafter. It will take a long time to heal, but we have started down that road.