Durban woman blinded by abusive husband speaks out

05 December 2017 - 16:55
By Suthentira Govender
Thousands have signed the pledge to end abuse of women and children.
Image: Supplied Thousands have signed the pledge to end abuse of women and children.

Annie Naidoo* silently endured beatings from her husband for nearly 22 years‚ until he decided to smash a snooker ball in her face‚ leaving her blind in one eye.

Naidoo is among thousands of South African women who have suffered abuse at their hands of their partners.

Now as the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign gains momentum‚ Naidoo‚ 43‚ has for the first time broken her silence in a bid to encourage others like her to end the cycle of abuse by speaking out.

The 2016 Demographic and Health Survey of over 11‚000 households showed that 17% of younger women aged 18 to 24 had experienced violence from a partner in the 12 months before the survey – 2.1% described this as often‚ and 8% as sometimes – compared to 16.7% among women 65 years old and older.

Separated and divorced women were more likely to experience violence (40%)‚ followed by those living together (31.1%).

Naidoo‚ who lived at a safe house at the Aryan Benevolent Home in Chatsworth for six months with her children‚ is now picking up the pieces of her shattered life.

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“My husband was a policeman. He beat me once before we got married‚ but I overlooked it believing I had done something wrong.”

But the one-off beating turned into endless days and nights of physical pain and torment.

“He lost his job in 2010 because of his drug and alcohol abuse. So the beating became worse. I didn’t want to leave because of our four children.

“I just silently endured his mistreatment of me. At one point he even broke my arm but I still returned home.”

But February 4 2016 was the turning point in Naidoo’s life. “My husband was fighting as usual. He started throwing things at us. He threw a snooker ball at my eye. I knew he had done some bad damage.

“The doctors tried to save my eye but they couldn’t‚ so they removed my eyeball. I had to wear a patch for a while.

“A psychologist told me I had to make up mind whether I wanted to return to my husband or start a new life. That’s when I took refuge at the safe house.”

Naidoo‚ who has filed for divorce‚ has had to move house twice since leaving the safe house‚ after her husband discovered her whereabouts.

“I will do what I have to but I will never return to that life again.”

Alisha Joseph‚ social worker for the ABH’s victim empowerment programme‚ said they were inundated with women who needed help to escape abusive relationships.

“Abuse does not discriminate against race or class. Our job here is to turn victims into survivors‚ helping them regain their self-worth‚ their careers and their lives‚” Joseph said.

*Naidoo not her real name