Blended families can either be a blessing to children or create a bad environment. For a 21-year old from Carltonville who is a mother to a 2 year old, it has been a torrent of suffering abuse from her step-mother. The girl’s biological father, a Bishop at a local church does not do enough to protect her. The step-mother beat her and left her body
covered with old and new bruises.
“My step-mother has injured my self-esteem, and emotional well-being,” she said. “She beat me up for nothing and sometimes opens windows [in my room], wakes me up early in the morning around 3 am.” She continued, “I am a dropout, and had a baby because of my step-mother’s actions. She does not want me to share my pain with anyone”, she said crying. “She is the one who is supposed to protect and nurture me. My father neglected me and allows his wife to repeatedly beat me. And when I was 15 years old, I reported this to my teacher and the social workers, including the police with no joy from them.”
She compared the family home to a prison and as a disturbing and unpleasant experience. She is disappointed because her step-mother called herself, “umama womthandazo” (woman of prayer), but her actions have proven otherwise by emotionally abusing her. “My father tells me that I really just need to give her a chance. That she was just having a bad time, a bad day that being a stepmom was just hard”, she said about her father’s reaction to the abuse. Their home is a terrifying place for her, “My father was the one who was supposed to love me unconditionally and to protect me,” she said.
The abuse went on for years. “The love relationship with the father blinds many from the upcoming changes in their lives. Raising another woman’s children is hard enough. However, being a stepmom with no children of your own is worse,” said the friend. She alleged that her step-mother beats her up with a belt for not folding the laundry ‘right’, pulling off her clothes.
She’s had to hide the bruises on her face after the beatings. “I put on long sleeved pajamas and pants to hide it, as if that made it better”, she said. “Why no one could tell what was going on I don’t know. Maybe I was so good at hiding it by that point, or maybe because she warned me not to tell anyone,” she added.
“The only person I share my pain with is my friend”, she said. She further said she does not understand why someone who should be a parent abuses her instead. “This woman may feel like a stranger in her own home because she is the last person to join a ready-made family and she does not have a biological connection to anyone in the home”, says the victim’s friend. “I remember my father being gone a lot and the fear that came with his goodbyes. I can remember a specific time when my father was going on a trip of some sort. He kissed me goodnight, said our prayers and sang some songs. As he hugged me I cried so hard I thought my heart was literally breaking”, she cried.
*Names of the survivor and her friend are withheld for their safety
This article was submitted on 30 May 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online ( www.Karibu.org.za ), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.