Three months after giving birth to my son, I discovered that we were both HIV positive. My boyfriend, the baby’s father, tried to blame me. At that time, we lived 400 kilometres away from each other. He had already told me that his sexual desires were causing him to go and seek satisfaction outside our relationship, but he insinuated that it was someone in my past, and not him who had given me HIV. I lost all hope in finding true love and a man who'll love me and protect me.
My relationships after that never seemed to work, especially since I couldn't open up sexually because of my status. Then one day I read about a dating site for people living with HIV, and I thought there is my answer right there. Finally, I could find someone who understands my situation who can love me for me, including my HIV.
I registered, started going through profiles, and I found this one particular profile that was frank and assertive. I contacted him and we started talking. Our relationship moved from that site to Facebook, and months later we had to meet. He hopped on a bus and came to meet me.
We clicked so much! The sexual chemistry between us was out of this world. We took pictures together, posted them on Facebook and told anyone who was listening how in love we were. I also visited him where he stayed.
All was well until one day he found an inbox on my Facebook page from a guy friend, we've been friends for a lifetime, who had referred to me as ‘his love'. All hell broke loose and I had to delete the guy as my friend, along with any other guy he thought was a threat to our relationship.
Another time, a different male friend of mine called me in the middle of the night and I answered. My boyfriend couldn't believe we were just friends, but he let it slide. The following morning he left me in the house the whole day and came back drunk. He demanded sex, claiming he needed ‘sexual healing’. I didn't want to but eventually I gave in after he told me that he could've not come home that night, but he came out of respect for me. It was the coldest sex we'd ever had since we met, I couldn't wait for him to finish.
Later on in the week, he got on to my Facebook and found a chat conversation I had with a female friend about how he made me feel, especially when he would use what I'd told him of my past to hurt my feelings. Soon after, he came home drunk again and said we should talk about how I really felt about him. Before I could even say anything, he started calling me names, telling me how much trouble I was to him with my neediness.
I couldn't take it anymore. I got up and started packing. He threw my suitcase away, started pointing and even poking my eyes with his fingers. He told me I was making him angry.
The next thing I saw was his foot in my neck as he drop-kicked me and slapped me. I snapped and fought back. I scratched his face, he strangled me and I did the same. I told myself if I had to die, we'll die together. We fell on the floor and just when I thought he'd realised what we were doing was wrong I dropped my guard, and that's when he gave me one strong punch that cracked open my upper left-eye in an instant.
Then he dragged me on the floor, threw me out with my clothes, and told me to leave as that was my wish. He tore my clothes and when I ran to the security room he chased me and dragged me back to come get my clothes. I was lucky a security guard who was doing his rounds saved me. He was arrested, but I later dropped the charges.
He changed cities and got a new job. I believed him when he told me he was attending anger management classes. He proposed to me via all social networks we were members of and I said yes, not realising I opened a gate for him to control all my social networking activities.
Soon, things went back to the way they were before. He would tell me I wasn't behaving like an engaged woman. He was more than 1 000 kilometers away but he controlled me like a puppet. He would dump me over a Facebook update, accusing me of flirting with both guys and ladies. He would publish things about me that I told him in private and in trust. He even published private pictures.
I couldn't leave him, because I knew what he was capable of doing – even from far away. He used Facebook as a way to humiliate and threaten me, I felt trapped, knowing he still had more to say. I prayed he got tired of me and left, and finally my prayers were answered. He decided he had enough of me. I celebrated the whole day and looked forward to my life beyond the emotional hell he put me through.
- Not her real name. This story is part of the I Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.