At my lowest point in life
Trapped in an arranged and loveless marriage for over 20 years, Thumeka saw suicide as the only way to free herself from the pain she suffered.
Her relatives, who cared for her while her mother was far from home, married Thumeka to a man she barely knew.
"I was 15 years old and doing grade eight when my relatives told me that they had received ilobola for me. I dropped out of school and moved in with my husband. I did not know anything about love and being with a man. My husband, who was 10 years older than me, abused me and cheated on me openly. My mother was only told two months later and the news left her heartbroken," she said.
Two years later Thumeka gave birth to her first-born child but that did not change her situation as her husband continued cheating on her and physically abusing her.
"Each time I confronted him about his behaviour, he would tell me to my face that he never loved me from the beginning. My cry for help fell on deaf ears because the elders in his family told me to be patient. At 19, I had my second child. My situation worsened because he refused to provide for me and the children.
The worst moment was when he cheated with my neighbour whom I usually opened up to. I felt betrayed by both my husband and my neighbour. I was emotionally wrecked and all I thought of was ending my life to free myself from the pain I suffered," she said.
That same year, Thumeka tried to commit suicide three times.
"In the first two incidents, I had my second-born on my back and left home with the intention of throwing myself in front of a moving car that would kill us on the spot. The thought of my first-born who would grow up without a mother held me back," she said.
She later found a job and was able to provide for her children, but she still felt she needed to find a way out of her marriage.
“The third time, I wanted to hang myself in the toilet at my work place but the security people found me before I could do it,” she said.
In 2008, Thumeka’s elder child invited her to the Universal Church.
"I attended Wednesday services to grow spiritually and on Fridays to be delivered from suicidal thoughts. At a service, I understood that I needed to surrender my miserable life to God and trust Him for a solution.
That same year I experienced a peace that I never had when I was in my marriage. Two years later I found the courage to finally divorce my husband. Attending church services helped me to forgive him for all the pain he put me through. I am now enjoying a peaceful and blessed life in the presence of God," she said.