Nina Sadiki met her husband to be, Isaac, in 1994, at the advice of her mother. At the time, Sadiki had been secretly pregnant with her second child from a previous relationship.
When she met the religious man, she explained to him that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy as her now former boyfriend did not want the child. However Isaac talked her out of it and instead said he would present Nina as the mother of his unborn child.
“We wound up in a relationship and tied the knot in 1996. I didn’t love him at first but I grew to love as the years went on,” says Nina. She never imagined the love will quickly evaporate as her marriage to the sweet, religious Isaac would soon turned into a horrifying ordeal which lasted for nearly a decade.
The bubbly woman opens up about her pain, sharing the harrowing story of abuse which she says led to her marriage’s gruesome end.
She is determined to share her story to save many women who, for various reasons, are trapped in brutal abusive relationships.
It’s been several years since her husband first laid his hands on her, but Nina still has a vivid memory of the gruesome attack.
She had been running late and almost missed the bus to work. With luck, a man who she usually caught the bus with convinced the bus driver to wait for Nina. Isaac might have seen the man’s generous act.
When she returned from work at night, Nina found her husband waiting for her at the bus stop. She did not see this as unusual. But before the couple could walk home, an enraged Isaac took out a gun and hit her with it between the eyes in a fit of jealous rage.
“My glasses fell and I desperately looked for them on the ground in the night. There was nobody else on the street except for us.”
The angry Isaac beat her up all the way home that night and the reason? The man who had managed to stop the bus for her in the morning.
“The next morning while preparing to go to work he strangled me in our bedroom. I tried to scream but my voice wouldn’t come out. He beat me and suddenly he came to his senses and he stopped. He then demanded that I give him money. He also instructed me to go and wash the blood off my face,” recalls Nina.
Due to the bruises she sustained that day, Nina did not go to work. The abuse went on for many years and as a coping strategy, she kept a journal at work in which she would record the beatings inflicted on her. Like many women trapped in an abusive relationship, she kept on hoping that her husband would change.
But as fate would have it, a co-worker had seen where Nina had kept the journal and on the day that she did not go to work, handed this over to Nina’s cousin who took the journal to the police.
It was on the night of 26 December 2003 while the couple were asleep that the police pounced on the couple’s home.
At the police station the couple were asked questions related to their lives together.
“The police could see that I was not speaking freely. They then asked him to leave the room and as soon as he did, I burst into tears,” says Nina.
Shortly, Isaac was arrested and spent the weekend in a police cell. Nina moved in with her cousin and husband. Since then, Isaac then attacked her again and she filed for divorce in 2004.
Nina’s lifeline came when a social worker referred her to Porter’s House in May 2004 where she started a new life even though she couldn’t really use her hands because of the injuries she had sustained in the several attacks.
Porter’s House is a shelter for abused and destitute women and offers shelter and transitional accommodation for the women and their children.
Putting her life back on track, Nina eventually moved out of the shelter and was appointed as the receptionist at the centre.
She worked her way up to become the administrator and PA to the chief executive officer. She is now the centre’s logistics manager and lives in a flat with her children. Nina is one of very few women who manage to escape abusive relationships. Many women, too scared to report abuse, find themselves trapped in domestic abuse and some pay the ultimate price.
“I kept asking myself where would I go? He knew my mother’s house and my other relatives’ houses. If I left him I was sure that it would be the end of me. I couldn’t leave him,” says Nina.
As the country marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, government and civil society have been encouraging women to come out and report abuse. The 2015 campaign is carried out under the theme, “Count Me In: Together Moving a Non-Violent South Africa Forward.” The period runs from 25 November until 10 December and is aimed at raising awareness about taking action and fighting against the violence and abuse of women, children and all other vulnerable groups in society.