"My husband used to beat me up. ActionAid awareness meetings changed my life”.
"I got married to Gerald when I was 19. The first year of marriage was beautiful, perhaps also because I was happy to be married. But the following years were hell on earth..."
Grace's story is hard to listen to and she often stops to think between one sentence and another, remembering the hardest moments of her life.
"My husband used to drink a lot and when he came home, he would beat me up for no reason and then force me to have sex, even when I was pregnant and I was not well. This has been my routine for over 25 years. Once he even hurt me with a knife!
That time I told my mother everything in search for support, but she told me that violence is the cross every woman has to bear. In addition to all this, Gerald didn't take care of our family. I had to do everything by myself: cultivate the land, feed our children and send them to school. They were very scared when my husband beat me and often ran to my parents, who live nearby. One night one of my children was bitten by a snake while he was running to my mother. We were very scared.
Then the meeting with the local ActionAid operators changed everything.
"Five years ago, I was invited by a friend to an awareness meeting organized by ActionAid Uganda. I found out that my husband was punishable by law for repeatedly beating me and not taking care of his family. I took courage and reported him to my community leader, who spoke to my husband. Then I convinced Gerald to watch a show about domestic violence. As the plot unfolded, pointing out all the negative consequences of violence, I saw my husband cry. On our way home, he remained silent. From that moment he hasn't hit me anymore and I saw a transformation in him. He talks to me gently, accompanies me to the well to get water and told our children to go back to school. Unfortunately, they had to drop out of school because the money was never enough, since he drank away the few savings we had. ActionAid gave us what we needed to start growing manioc and earth nuts: now we can produce enough to sell them and have the money to send our children back to school.
I am also a member of a Reflect group where we learn how to manage savings. My life has changed completely. Now, my husband and I are best friends and we also run a small restaurant in our village.