Marie Matthews* (name changed for confidentiality) was born in 1972 and grew up in Peyton, Wellington. From the age of 8 to the age of 11 she endured being sexually molested by her uncle, her mother’s youngest brother. Her parents were very strict and lived in extreme poverty, so the extended family all shared a one bedroom house, where there was no privacy. Her uncle would wait until everyone was asleep, before he would molest her. Marie’s relationship with her parents was not an open one so she was never able to tell them what transpired, for fear of being accused by them, that it was her own fault.
Their relationship was not an open one, she felt rejected by her parents and was labelled as a ‘mishap and liability’ since the earliest days of her life that she can remember. The pain she felt when she observed other mother-daughter relationships cut deep. The shame she bore due to having to keep this terrible secret from age 8, detrimentally affected her whole life. The things that happened to her, she never shared with anyone until we interviewed her.
As a teenager, Marie rebelled out of the sheer frustration of not being heard or believed and turned to drugs, mandrax, dagga and tik, which she said drowned her pain. Coupled with this she turned to crime to be able to afford the drugs. She used to envision killing her uncle and at one stage even planned to murder him, however she got cold feet at the last minute so never executed her plan. She later married and had a son who is 26 years old today. Her husband died, making her a widow in 2007.
The crimes Marie committed had landed her in prison on more than one occasion and her longest sentence being in Worcester Women’s Correctional Centre which lasted 5 years. It was there that she decided to take advantage of the system and obtain her matric. She also started writing poetry, all which relate to her life and circumstances. Today she is drug free, has joined a support group and will be attending weekly counselling. She partakes in the Nehemiah Bible Institute prison ministry programs and is well on her way leading to the road of God’s perfect healing.
Marie did not wish for her photograph to be taken for this article, however stipulated that she would love to see a picture of breaking chains placed where her face would have been. When asked what her plans are for the future, she says she plans to get her poetry book published to help others in similar situations. When asked, ‘You have a pattern of returning to rehab and prison, what makes it different this time?’ Marie replied, ‘This time I have accepted Jesus into my heart!’
One of Marie’s poems: (spelling as written by her)
Jirre, hoe swaa moerit vir U wees?
Om hopeloosgeit te slat
Oppi skaal wat eke voo U koperate
Soe, amakaa, soe onvoorspelbaa en so lastag.
En Jirre, hoe diep moet U nie sug nie?
As eke in my armlastigheid
By U ko skarrel en my bak hande
Voo ekke voo U ko oepmaak.
Jirre, hoe bittere pil wat U moet aanmekaa
Moet insluk? As eke weer
Erken dat eke , vir die duisendkeer alwee
Die basic beginsels vanni lewe verloen het.
Jirre, elke bely dat ekke gewoont is aan afhanklikheid
Noodlotig verslaaf aani gifte en gawesse
Vasgeloop tienie verroting van ontvang
Onmagtig om, om te draai.
O Jirre! Daarom versomit my aan mekaa
Dat U ‘n plan maak om my nogge kans te gie
Om sinvol te lewe, dat U my as ligewitte skarrelaar
Important genoeg ag, virri nuwe begin in U ryk
Important genoeg ag, virri nuwe begin in U Koningryk.~MAM