Ellen was only three years old when her mother left her to be raised by her father and his four wives. Living with her father's family made her the victim of abuse.
"My father woke me up in the early hours of the morning to go and plough the fields with him while my other siblings went to school. I never went to school like other children," said Ellen.
When she was 14, Ellen's father forced her into an arranged marriage with a 60-year-old man.
"My father pretended to be sending me to the man's house and on my arrival there, I was told that I was the man’s second wife. My sexual abuse ordeal started that very same evening. I cried day and night and wished to die in order to escape the abuse. His first wife also threatened to kill me if I did not leave her husband, but I was never bothered by her threats because death was what I wanted. A year later I had my first child.
I did not even know how to care for my son because I was still a child as well and I did not have any support from my husband and his first wife. All they taught me was how to brew traditional beer that I later started drinking in order to shift my focus away from my problems. I drank every day and I soon became addicted. I tried to escape from my abusive marriage after three years, but I was caught and brought back to his house. After my failed attempt to escape, I just accepted my situation and I gave birth to my second child," she said.
Her father later came to take Ellen home because her husband failed to pay what was due to her father.
"My freedom from my arranged marriage was short-lived. I soon learnt that my father was having talks with another man he wanted me to marry. I ran away from home to stay with my aunt in Johannesburg. That was where I met my mother for the first time in 33 years when she came to visit her sister. I had mixed emotions because I never thought she was still alive," said Ellen.
Ellen got her first job when she was 33 years old, but her addiction to alcohol proved to be a problem.
"I worked as a cleaner at a government institution. I would drink about three bottles of alcohol during my lunch hour and my bosses were not impressed with my behaviour but they kept me because I worked hard. It worsened after I started my own tavern. The business grew fast and I made good profit," she said.
In 2006 Ellen was invited by her neighbour to come to the Universal Church.
"I attended services on Fridays for deliverance from alcohol and on Wednesdays for spiritual healing. After three months in the church I was able to quit alcohol and close down the tavern. I understood that I had to let go of the hatred I had towards my father and my ex-husband in order to allow the spirit of God to dwell in me. I also took part in the Self-Help offerings where I had to pray for those who wronged me. That brought me healing and inner peace," said Ellen.