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My appeal for mercy falls on deaf ears, I scream, I shout, I wail but he continues beating like he is beating a drum. I can hear the echo of my screams down the corridor but the corrugated roof keeps it confined in the house.

I keep hoping that a Good Samaritan will hear my cry and come to my rescue. But alas Samaritans ended in the times of the Messiah.

The scream of a woman now sounds just like the bleating of a sheep. It has become too common. But also, everyone is scared, scared for their own lives, afraid to be witnesses and petrified by being in the crossfire.

Everyone ignores. The cry of a woman no longer touches souls. It invokes no emotions, and it arouses no empathy.

As these thoughts haphazardly race through my mind, my body is banging on the wall, strong hands grip my throat and bloodshot eyes pierce though my soul.

Who is this man? I know him not. He is not the man I loved yesterday, the gentleman I said yes to in yesteryears. He is a monster. He has a face of a dragon. He has horns of Lucifer. He has a forked tongue of a serpent, limbs of a giant spider and creepy eyes of a nameless beast. He scares me. He frightens me, and I love him not.

How on earth does he want to kill me, the woman who bore him half a dozen children, the very woman who cooks, washes and cares for him, the rib of his own ribs, the woman he promised to love till death separates us?

Had I known yesterday that he would be the cause of my death I would have answered “I don’t” before the clergy. But the hopes of a good marriage which every girl is conditioned to dream of, the hope of matriculation from poverty and induction into good life of abundance were far appealing.

At this point, with a squeaky voice I beg for my life. I plead for mercy. I apologise knowing full well that I have not erred. As if my supplication has been heard, he pushes me down and I fall with a thud. He tramples on my back with his giant last size shoe, steps back, looks at me with a sneer on his face and yells that next time he will finish me off.

Full of fear as I lie down, in pain and bleeding. I question myself if there will be a next time, if at all I will stay for another dose of beatings, if I will soldier on. But oh yes l might just stay. I will stay hoping the next time doesn’t come or at least pray the interval of beatings becomes longer.

After all, everyone expects me to stay. He expects me to stay. My folks expect me to stay. My in-laws expect me to stay, and society expects me to stay.

But what of my own expectations? Oh no! Expectations of a woman matter not. What is a woman? Who is a woman? She is that being created to be a submissive wife, a good mother, a patient being and good daughter in-law. Forget the bruises on her face, the scars on her body, the throbbing pain in her heart, the cracks in her broken spirit, her agitated soul, her troubled mind, her ruptured esteem and her shattered dreams.

She’s socialised to be “virtuous.” She’s taught to be patient. She’s moulded to be resilient, and if she is deemed rebellious, she can be beaten into submission.

When she stands up for herself the society is quick to shower her with canons of criticism.

Like a huge millipede I uncoil myself, struggle to stand upright, feeling stabbing and stinging pains all over. I can hardly tell which part of my body aches.

I head to the bedroom to find my poor children snuggled in a corner. Their tiny faces are full of fear and confusion. Their small bodies are trembling and shivering. I hug them and assure them it shall be well. But what sort of a mother am I? I have made the same promises over and over again. I can’t protect my children. can’t shield them from this emotional abuse. I too am powerless, but I beat myself at my failure in motherhood. But my wings are broken, and I can longer cover my kids like a protective hen. Year in year out they witness the fights.

Oh no! Did I just say fights. This is not fighting for I never fight back. I was taught never to and besides I have no power to.

As I cuddle these young afraid souls, I hear his roaring voice summoning me to bring his meal. Fearing to upset him, I quickly limp to the bathroom, clean myself up and head to the kitchen to serve the master. He chomps and chews as though all is well, occasionally giggling, laughing, slouching as he switches from one football channel to another. At that point unbridled anger rises up in my chest, but l cannot do anything.

Later tonight, he snores, whizzes, tosses and turns while l’m pre-occupied with feeling my old scars, my fresh abrasions and imagine the wounds yet to come. I have a flashback going over a decade and recall the painful insults, the agonizing pain, the heavy blows, the bold punches, the thorough beatings and realise I have been afraid to leave but even more afraid to stay. The few pleasant memories have made me stay. The hope for better moments have persuaded me to stay; yet the unpleasant memories clearly outweigh all this false hope.

No words can describe yesterday’s tears, today’s horrors and tomorrow’s fears. After all it’s comforting that statistics show it’s not only me. About six in ten women have a story to tell though many stories remain untold.

The world is sick with this social cancer of domestic violence, which has no respect for class, race, ethnicity or religion. This social disease has caused many injuries, claimed many lives and traumatised many.

Why, I ask?

The rest of the thoughts and events that night become history.

Today my soul shouts: “I am a survivor! I walked away.”

But my heart bleeds. My mind is not at peace. My soul is troubled. A question lingers inside of me…….. “Why-Won’t-Women-Walkaway?”

I have no answer.

No one has the answer.

The abused have no answer.

The very abuser has no answer.

Oh Lord; make me live to find the answer.

If I don’t let the coming generations find the answer.



Post image by Noah Davis via Manufactoriel

About the Author:

Portrait -  Talent MathuthuMy name is Talent Mathuthu. I am a 32 year old lady from Zimbabwe who resides in South Africa. I am a social scientist with a Master of Science in Development Studies and a Law student. My interests are in Rights Based Development, women and child rights and youth development. I am a development practitioner, social analyst, social activist and story writer.


I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

16 Responses to “ I am a survivor, I walked away | by  Talent Mathuthu | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Khethiwe Ncube 2015/09/14 at 06:52 #

    Pleased to read your piece, keep on keeping to raise awareness on issues affecting women.

  2. Malungelo Dube 2015/09/14 at 07:55 #

    Um impressed my little sister…. You are doing a good job

  3. Malungelo Dube 2015/09/14 at 07:57 #

    I am very much impressed Talent …….keep it up

  4. Talent Mathuthu 2015/09/14 at 18:13 #

    thank you all, much appreciated. I believe its women who can take the lead in raising awareness on this social ill, self organising and crafting strategies of addressing its root causes and offering care and support to the victims. We continue to lose lives because of many ideas that we have internalised through socialisation.

  5. Nokuthula Ncube 2015/09/15 at 00:55 #

    The statistics are worrying, women keep dying but these are only the stories we get to know. Many go untold. At one point we will have to rise and not only tell the stories but find solutions. Thank you for the insightful story

  6. Talent Mathuthu 2015/09/15 at 06:54 #

    True, there are hidden statistics, live have been lost. Almost everyday there is a story of death resulting from domestic violence. We need to take action, call for law reforms, policy reforms, institutional mechanisms among other things. Respective duty bearers have a role to play but as communities we also have responsibilities to play. Collective action is needed now more than ever. Marriages and relationships should not be death traps or ticking time bombs

  7. Samal 2015/09/16 at 03:52 #

    I give you a 12/10 that’s a lovely masterpiece.

  8. Talent Mathuthu 2015/09/18 at 05:41 #

    Many thanks for the high score and improper fraction, very much appreciated

  9. sofia 2015/09/22 at 08:53 #

    brilliant piece, read it to the end my sister. could envision what she was going through. Keep up the good work. looking forward to more from you.

  10. Tinani Mafusire 2015/09/23 at 04:22 #

    Insightful, a story of some women out there. At times i think women do not walk away cause of societal beliefs, dependency and emotional attachment. Maybe one day women can be helped but i dont think it is right to advice women to suffer silently whilst being subjected to domestic violence of any kind. Good article Talent all the best in all your endeavours.

  11. Talent Mathuthu 2015/09/23 at 05:25 #

    Sofia it is the ordeal of women, one that is untold, society turns a blind eye and pretends it is normal and acceptable. Its painful because many end up dying, dying in the hands of their so called loved ones. Its sad very sad!

  12. Talent Mathuthu 2015/09/23 at 05:32 #

    Many thanks Mafusire, it is my desire that women overcome some ideas they have internalised, the ideas that make them believe it is right to enjoy material things in exchange for a few blows and slaps as long as you are in marriage. Toxic ideas that keep them in dysfunctional relationships. It is a case of mentality, beliefs and in some cases poverty. This social cancer spreads like fire, many lives keep being lost, it breaks my spirit and troubles my soul, we need action

  13. magaret 2015/10/01 at 04:42 #

    Talent this is so true so real, nowhere to ,nothing to say and nobody to listen.
    The amount of pain ,abuse and anger affects more people and yet the strength to walk away and move on is never there instead one is constantly told “hang in there ,tomorrow will be better” but there is no tomorrow
    Thank you my sister

  14. Talent Mathuthu 2015/10/06 at 04:47 #

    Magaret many thanks for your comment, these are real problems faced by women in today’s world, in a way we always hope for a better tomorrow until we die before we see it

  15. Mpume 2016/01/20 at 15:24 #

    Deep, powerful, moving!!!

  16. Talent Mathuthu 2016/01/22 at 08:09 #

    Thanks, hope it changes the lives of other women and inspires them to walk away

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